Manchester League team - Previous seasons

2003-4 2004-5 2005-6 2006-7 2007-8 2008-9 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19

Seasons 2020-21 to 2022-23

No competition was held in 2020-21. We did not enter a team in 2021-22 or 2022-23.


The 2019-20 season was curtailed due to Covid-19. The team captain's report is included in the 2020 AGM minutes on this site.

Date Competition Opponents H/A Result Score
01/10/2019 A Division Chorlton I H Lost 2-5
23/10/2019 A Division 3Cs I A Lost 1½-5½
29/10/2019 Reyner Shield Stockport I A Lost 1-6
17/12/2019 A Division 3Cs II H Lost 1½-5½
16/01/2020 A Division Great Lever A Lost 1½-5½
11/02/2020 A Division Stockport I A Lost ½-6½
25/02/2020 A Division Blue Club I H Lost ½-6½
26/03/2020 A Division Bolton I A XXXX XXXX
07/04/2020 A Division Bolton II H XXXX XXXX
29/04/2020 A Division Heywood I A XXXX XXXX

Full details of all matches and league tables can be found on the Manchester League website

25/02/2020 - Altrincham ½ Blue Club I 6½

Another familiar massive grading deficiency of over 50 rating points on average did not bode well for a successful outcome. Despite this, the evening got off to a good start with the captain winning the toss yet again to continue a successful run that threatens to banish the prior losing streak from the memory banks. This was followed by a splendid grandmaster draw by Dave on top board. After winning a pawn he reached a position where all the major pieces were about to come off the board to leave a drawn ending.

Unfortunately matters went downhill thereafter. Sheraz lost a piece for a pawn and had no chance in the resultant endgame. Peter also advised me of his loss and soon after I lost my rook and pawn ending played with one pawn fewer and at one stage with 51 seconds left compared to my opponent's 51 minutes!

I then surveyed the final 3 games which were more encouraging than the results to date. Tom was level on material and his opponent had only about 6 minutes left while Tom had over 20. However, Tom's position was very passive and an exchange of pieces where Tom captured with the wrong rook ended with him losing a piece and shortly after the game.

Bill was 2 pawns up, but under time pressure he went into defensive mode at a time when attack was likely to be the best form of defence. Overlooking a bishop capture of pawns which could only be stopped by allowing a knight check forking the queen, Bill saw his material advantage disappear in a flash leaving his king exposed, which duly perished to a fine finish. The reversal of fortunes was met with considerable relief by his opponent who acknowledged the fine game played by Bill who suffered the highest grading deficiency on the night of over 70.

Mike Reeve was making an impressive debut on the bottom board after a break from competitive chess of about 20 years. He was level seemingly in position as well as material well into the middle-game. However, his much higher rated opponent was able to put him under pressure as his time began to run out, and a series of accurate moves captured a couple of Mike's pawns and then a piece to force resignation. So the final result was another 6½-½ defeat much in line with the form book! At least Bill and Sheraz, having now played 6 games this season, now feature alongside me in that select group of players with a percentage performance of less than 20% on the MCF website!

11/02/2020 - Stockport I 6½ Altrincham ½

I'm afraid I don't have a great deal to report on the match at Stockport. Despite its spacious venue and the fact we were only able to field 6 players I found myself hemmed in and unable to view any action other than Bill's on the neighbouring board.

As expected we were massively outgraded with Steve on board 6 facing a player with a grade similar to Reg on our board 1, and with a rating more than double his own. Not surprisingly he was the first to suffer defeat. There was then a decent time interval before any further setbacks, although Bill's game became unfavourable viewing during that period as his initial pawn advantage was outweighed by his opponent's positional superiority and active piece play, and a particularly strong bishop pair ushered in his final demise.

Bill had kindly chauffeured Reg again while he recovered from his black ice drama, so he stayed to watch the remaining games. Although I now had access to watch the other games as well, this was not practical as I was soon to enter my last 5 minutes with a significant time disadvantage. Unfortunately Bill was soon able to update the match score to show further losses for Sheraz and David leaving Reg and me still at the board.

Reg was again playing Allan Beardsworth, one of the league's illustrious members of the 200+ grading club. He obviously fared better than his last match against Allan as the match went the distance before voices were briefly heard behind me congratulating Reg on a well fought but ultimately fruitless game.

Meanwhile your captain continued to make use of his 15 seconds increments, and amazingly found my position improving in time trouble, to such an extent that I had the temerity to turn down a draw offer from my opponent who was rated 40 more grading points higher than me at the start of the season. With my recent endgame time deficient defeat to Mark Whalley (see the B team match report against Urmston) at the back of my mind, I boldly went for the kill by sacrificing knight for 2 pawns to leave 4 pawns versus bishop and 2 pawns. However, with a passed pawn on the sixth rank, I finally decided to return the offer of a draw as I struggled to make any further progress. Its acceptance was met with a burst of applause which I suspect was more a response to the fact we could all go home than the merits of my game. So the lights came down and at least we returned with half a point.

16/01/2020 - Great Lever 5½ Altrincham 1½

This proved to be a difficult day for the club to field a team, and I was very much indebted to the 7 members of the pool of 18 up for selection who enabled us to go to Great Lever with a full side. Although Great Lever are only just back in the top division, they had just beaten Bolton, and despite the absence of Mike Surtees on the top board, they were able to field their next 7 best players with an average grade of just over 150. As a result we were outgraded by between 20 to 30 points on the top 4 boards and by 43 to 61 points on the bottom 3 boards.

Despite the ratings disadvantage, we started encouragingly. David Ashby had a terrific Manchester League debut, simplifying quickly to a rook and pawn ending and agreeing a draw to make light of his 43 rating points deficit. Steve was on the adjacent board 7 and was caught in an early attack which resulted in a queen loss for some material compensation leaving him to struggle, effectively a minor piece down, and his opponent converted the advantage to win.

Sheraz and Bill both looked to have promising positions. Sheraz emerged a pawn up in a rook and pawn ending, and confident of his prospects turned down a draw offer, only to subsequently find his confidence was misplaced as he let the drawn position slip to a loss. Bill looked to have a crushing kingside attack but sadly lost a piece and the game before he could execute it. Board 1, like Sheraz's game on the adjacent board also showed White a pawn up, but unfortunately Reg was Black. However, Reg produced his special brand of hypnotic powers that he has put to good effect recently, to lure his opponent into giving up a piece, and he was then able to go on to secure an excellent win.

If Nick and I could win our blitz finishes we could therefore secure a draw. However, I crumbled to an excellent kingside attack finish by my opponent, and Nick fell victim to a knight fork as his opponent pressed in a rook, knight and pawn ending. So the final result of 5½-1½ left us firmly at the bottom of the table.

17/12/2019 - Altrincham 1½ 3Cs II 5½

(Report by Reg as Tony was last to finish again!) Again we had a struggle to put a team out, in a match which we needed to win to have a chance of avoiding relegation, as 3Cs II were the only team to finish below us last season. So the 1½-5½ defeat was actually better than we might have expected, given the grade deficit. We had hopes of a better result early on, as we scored our 1½ in the first two games to finish, on the top two boards. The crucial positions are below. In the first position Sheraz had won a pawn, and could have consolidated this by playing ...e5. Instead he played ...c5, allowing his opponent to force a perpetual with Bxg7. His opponent could not suppress an audible chuckle of relief at being given this reprieve after blundering a pawn a few moves earlier! The second position is my game, where I am a pawn up, but ...Rxe3 by my opponent would leave everything to play for. Instead he inexplicably played ...Nxe3?? allowing mate in 2.


Our luck ran out after that, having all been used in my game! 3Cs are renowned for their strong junior players, and it was one of these who levelled the scores on board 7, where Steve Ward, facing the largest grade deficit, did well to reach an equal looking pawn ending but lost out by one move. Bill was next to resign, having struggled in a bad position for most of the game. Peter and Mike were facing two more products of the 3Cs junior club who have now grown up and are solid 160 grades. Peter and Mike both seemed to be holding their own, indeed Peter seemed well on course for a draw in a rather blocked position, but they eventually succumbed in the endgame. Tony was last to go under, with his opponent's powerful Bishop pair being the main deciding factor.

29/10/2019 - Stockport I 6 Altrincham 1 (Reyner Shield)

(by Reg) Once again we exited the Reyner Shield at the first hurdle. Tony had a struggle to get 7 players, and Steve Ward gallantly stepped in on board 7 and seemed to be doing well, ahead in material, but ultimately Steve capitulated. I was next to finish. Due to Mark and Dan being unavailable I had the opportunity to play on board 1 against one of the top players in the MCF, Allan Beardsworth, and he gave a masterclass on how to exploit positional weaknesses and how to use a good Knight against a bad Bishop. When I resigned at move 42 I had virtually run out of time, but Allan still had over an hour left on his clock.

That gave me the opportunity to watch the 5 remaining games. Tony looked to be completely lost, the exchange and 2 pawns down, and Bill also looked in trouble a pawn down, and soon after dropped a Rook and the game. Things did not look too bad on the other boards - Mike's position looked interesting after his opponent gave up the exchange for 2 pawns, but next time I looked Mike had lost a piece, and resignation soon followed. Vijay looked like he might be in trouble but managed to escape from a nasty pin along the e file to reach a level Queen & pawns ending, and he was able to draw by perpetual. Another excellent result against 171 graded John Reed, to follow his draw at 3Cs last week.

Nick seemed to also be on course for a draw, but a weak isloated pawn ultimately proved his undoing. That left just Tony to finish, somehow still alive, and though still down in material had created serious counter play with dangerous passed pawns. The game was now very complex and with both players practically down to increments it was impossible to tell who was winning. Tony did however have a stroke of luck, making an illegal Queen move when his King was in check - but not only did his opponent waive the 2 minute penalty, he also did not enforce the 'touch move' rule which would have required Tony to interpose his Queen to block the check which would have lost instantly. A few moves later, with Queen and opposite coloured Bishops each, and Tony 3 pawns down, a draw was agreed due to Tony's Queen checks. The position was quite likely lost, but not easy to see how to win when short of time. I think Tony deserved the draw for perseverance!

23/10/2019 - 3Cs I 5½ Altrincham 1½

We went to 3Cs with some trepidation as we were playing the champions for the last 7 years with a team weakened by a couple of our top players. When the teams were exchanged Dan had a small 8 point grading advantage on the top board while the rest of us had inferior grades of between 38 and 50!

My game was slow from the outset due to its complexity so by the time I had chance to look at the other games play was well advanced in some of them. At first glance Dan looked to be winning material in his game which was already approaching the endgame, but then I realised his opponent's pawn on the 6th combined with back row mating threats looked difficult to stop. Dan obviously agreed as he resigned in that position. To the left of me, boards 2 & 3 also didn't look promising. Dave was the exchange down and I believe his opponent was later able to unblock a closed position by giving the exchange back at a favourable time to win the endgame. Sheraz's opponent's pieces were massing on his kingside and they eventually broke through to force another win.

To the right of me, Tom was also suffering from kingside pressure and ultimately his opponent was able to sacrifice a minor piece for a pawn to force a pretty mating finish. However, boards 6 & 7 were putting up greater resistance. Bill had doubled rooks on an open file and I assume they must have been behind his eventual fine win. Vijay also appeared to be in a good position with his major pieces threatening his opponent's kingside, but he was happy to settle for a draw with his highly rated opponent. My own game was level up to the final 5 minutes when time pressure saw my young highly rated opponent take advantage of my mistakes and reverse the loss he suffered to me in the deciding match of the 2017 Wahltuch Trophy. So the final result was a respectable 1½-5½ defeat!

01/10/2019 - Altrincham 2 Chorlton I 5

The new Manchester League season got underway with a match against Chorlton in our cosy back room at the Woodheys. Welcoming back Dan, we started in the unusual position of outgrading our opponents on the top 2 boards, but thereafter we were heavily outgraded.

First to finish with a highly creditable draw was Sheraz who played a solid game with white against a much higher rated player. On the adjacent board Nick was a piece down and his opponent duly converted the win. Playing adjacent to me was Reg who I noted at one point was the exchange down, but surprisingly on a later look had won it back and was also able to agree a draw with the white pieces.

I then became absorbed in my own game which was highly irregular. Neither king looked that safe, but whilst I left mine in the middle hiding behind a blocked centre my opponent decided to castle kingside on move 16 with pawns already on g4 and f4. It turned out well for him as his king ended up relatively safe on h2 while mine fell foul to a queenside invasion from a rook.

On checking the match position I then realised that only Dan's game was continuing as Mark and Mike, who had level positions the last time I looked, had both been defeated. Mike confirmed that his was lost in the transition from middle to endgame, probably because he does not get the chance to play so many endgames. The evening closed with a glorious return for Dan winning a hard fought contest against a top player in Hope Mkhumba with a nice finish as queen, rook and minor pieces circled around his opponent's king in the final 10 minutes on the clock. So the season starts with a 5-2 defeat, and we hope for some improvement going forward.

2018-19 Team Captain's Report

After our promotion as Division B runners up last season we earned the right to play in Division A for only the second time in my 26 years of captaincy. As we lost all 9 matches last time in 2003/04 with only Kurt Linke managing to win a game, we approached the season with some trepidation. Our opponents this time would be the first teams of the 6 most successful clubs, together with the second teams of 3Cs and Bolton who were the B division champions in the last 2 years.

I am delighted to report that our first match at Chorlton showed us improve significantly upon on our last outing in the top division as we scored our first point in the top flight with a draw which saw Bill, Reg and I all join Kurt as winners in A division. This was an impressive result against a side with an average grading advantage of 20 points. Unfortunately, the next game provided a reality check with a 6-1 defeat to 3Cs who were to finish the season as champions for the seventh year running. In the following game we visited 3Cs to play their second team who also proved too strong for us winning 4½-2½, although Reg was an individual winner again. In hindsight, this defeat looked as though it would prove crucial as 3Cs 2 lost all their remaining matches and finished bottom of the league. The scoreline of 4½-2½ was repeated in 4 of our remaining 5 matches, but whereas we lost against Stockport, Bolton and Heywood, we won by that margin against Bolton 2. Our only other league result was a 6-1 defeat at Blue Club. As Bolton 2 narrowly bettered our draw at Chorlton by beating them 4-3, we ended the season with 3 points sandwiched between Bolton 2 on 4 points and 3Cs 2 on 2 points, apparently in a relegation position, although more of that later! Our much improved performance was reflected by the fact that our final tally of 20 board points out of 56 was identical to that achieved by Bolton 2.

A number of further individual wins were achieved throughout the season. Mark Hann won on top board against Blue Club and Bolton 2, while Kieran was also a winner against Bolton 2. Nick and I both won in the last match against Heywood while Sheraz won against both Stockport and Bolton in the league. His achievements were matched by Vijay with 2 wins against the same clubs, although his win against Bolton came in the Reyner Shield where we were defeated 5-2. We normally have about a dozen members playing for the team during the season, and this year 13 actually played. Of these, 7 played in more than half the matches. Mark Hann, Reg and I again played in all the matches with Mark scoring the most points, his 3½ edging ahead of 3 scored by both Reg and myself. Our score of 3 was impressively matched by Sheraz and Vijay from 6 and 5 games respectively. Mark Whalley and Dave played 7 and 5 games respectively and both managed 3 draws. Of those playing fewer games, Kieran, Bill and Nick all played 3 matches, the first 2 scoring 1 point while Nick achieved 1½. Mike, Jeff and Peter also played 4 games between them.

As usual I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the team members for their continued support. Returning to my earlier comments regarding relegation, I am pleased to advise that the MCF Fixtures Committee have come to our rescue. At the end of the season they reported that some divisions suffered from an inadequate number of fixtures and they proposed to change the composition of the divisions next season. This would result in Division A having 10 teams instead of 9 which was ultimately achieved by relegating no teams and promoting last season's Division B champions, Great Lever. So we live to fight again in Division A next season, and hope to see the return of Danilo to give us a welcome boost.

Tony Lane 10 September 2019
Date Competition Opponents H/A Result Score
02/10/2018 A Division Chorlton I A Draw 3½-3½
23/10/2018 A Division 3Cs I H Lost 1-6
28/11/2018 A Division 3Cs II A Lost 2½-4½
13/12/2018 Reyner Shield Bolton I A Lost 2-5
15/01/2019 A Division Stockport I H Lost 2½-4½
04/02/2019 A Division Blue I A Lost 1-6
19/02/2019 A Division Bolton I H Lost 2½-4½
21/03/2019 A Division Bolton II A Won 4½-2½
09/04/2019 A Division Heywood I H Lost 2½-4½

Full details of all matches and league tables can be found on the Manchester League website

09/04/2019 - Altrincham 2½ Heywood I 4½

A narrow defeat to Heywood saw us come within 1 point of climbing out of the bottom 2 places of the MCF A Division. On the same night Bolton II lost 5½-1½ at Stockport, so our 4½- 2½ loss meant we finished with an identical game score of 20 for and 36 against. Unfortunately Bolton II have 4 points compared to our 3, so we needed that 1 extra win to give us a draw and take us above them.

Had the 2 matches taken place at the same venue Bolton would have been very concerned to observe the closing stages of our match, when such a result looked highly likely. I was in the fortunate position of being able to observe the twists and turns of the match as my own game got us off to a flying start with mate in 6! I had recently come across this line in the Steinitz variation of the Caro - Kann on the 365 chess database and decided I would play it next time I had the opportunity, as the trap was very easy for black to fall into, and the line had a very high percentage win record. Moreover, the line was not often played, featuring in only 137 games out of over 11 thousand. Of these the trap featured 17 times, but even more amazingly white missed the mating move in 2 of them and even went on to lose one. I actually finished my game before Nick started his!

Unfortunately Heywood levelled quite quickly with Sheraz losing on the adjacent board 5. However, the other 5 games all largely went the distance with all their outcomes uncertain until the closing stages. Eventually, Mark H's sound position deteriorated,throwing up complications he could have done without, as his clock showed about 40 seconds left compared to his opponent's 40 minutes! As his opponent admitted afterwards the time factor was solely responsible for his win. Mark W's pawn and minor piece ending soon became deadlocked and a draw was agreed.

With 2 points needed from the last 3 for the draw, Nick checked with me whether he needed to play for a win, and I advised him that would be most useful given the strength of the opposition on boards 2 & 3, notwithstanding the fact those games were level at the time. Nick followed the captain's advice and emerged with a victory after his opponent blundered a piece. Unfortunately, at about the same time Reg lost after an inaccuracy in a level Rook & Knight ending. Dave's game had many similarities to Reg's. He had taken his king on a middle game march to the centre of the board but could make no progress as rooks were exchanged leaving a pawn and minor piece ending which was likely to end in nothing better than a draw. Although anything could happen in a time scramble Dave had less time left, and at the death he played one wrong move to sadly miss even the draw.

So at the end of the night we were left in the bottom 2 of the division. The 2 matches against 3Cs 2 and Chorlton were crucial. The average grade of the former was 169 in our defeat compared to a modest 146 when they were beaten by Bolton 2. However, although we were happy with a draw in our first match of the season at Chorlton against a team with an average grade of 160, Bolton 2 produced an impressive win there against a team with an average grade of 180 that proved decisive.

We can however reflect on our most successful season to date in the top division of the Manchester league, achieving 3 points more than the last time we played in that division 15 years ago, with a respectable average game points score of 2.5 per match.

21/03/2019 - Bolton II 2½ Altrincham 4½

The night started with our late arrival Sheraz showing that this was no barrier to an early finish as he settled for a draw. Shortly after Dave and I also agreed draws. Dave had a wild game with material imbalance where neither player was exactly sure how things would end up. I was a pawn up but would probably have to give it up to improve my position, so offered a draw with 12 minutes left on my clock, some 20 minutes less than my opponent. He readily agreed saving me from a time pressured finish.

After a further short interval Reg and Mark W had the next batch of draws. There was plenty of pieces on Reg's board but not much chance of either player making progress and they repeated moves, while Mark's game was a knight and pawns versus bishop and pawns ending where Mark was unable to move ahead by attacking his opponent's isolated central pawn.

So after 5 draws it was all down to Mark H on board 1 and Kieran on board 5. Looking at their games I was confident of victory and was not disappointed. Kieran had knight and bishop for a rook and two pawns, and like Mark W's game his opponent had an isolated central pawn, but one which perhaps had some potential. However, Kieran had a massive time advantage of about half an hour, and as his opponent played on increments for a long period the pressure proved too much for him as he lost a pawn and then blundered a rook with seconds left on his clock. On board 1 Mark had a comfortable 2 pawns advantage from his tried and tested Nimzowitsch - Larsen attack. More unusually for him he had a similar time advantage to Kieran. In the end he opted to give the material back for a simple winning pawn endgame once he had declined his opponent's rather hopeful draw offer.

So the 4½-2½ win was the first achieved by the club in A division in my 26 years of captaincy. If we can follow that up with a win on 9 April we will be in with a good chance of keeping the run going next season!

19/02/2019 - Altrincham 2½ Bolton I 4½

A weakened Bolton first team gave us a chance of a result but the loss of the toss was not a good start. First to finish with a grand master draw was Nick. Sadly this was followed by my own demise against some strong tactical play by Paul Doherty. This enabled me to watch some interesting and close fought games. Draws by Dave and Vijay were sandwiched by the highlight of the evening, an excellent win against the highly rated and in form Adam Tyton by Sheraz, who coolly held off mating threats to go a rook and a couple of pawns clear.

So the match hung in the balance to be decided on the top two boards. Mark was a pawn up but in a poor position, which his opponent improved further by giving up another pawn, and converted the ensuing strong position into a win. The pressure was then on Reg who had to decline a draw offer to have a chance of saving the match. He looked to have a slight initiative with both players having both bishops, knights, a rook and 4 pawns on the board. As time ran short Reg opted to simplify exchanging bishop and 2 knights for 2 bishops and knight, but his opponent coordinated his remaining knight, rook and king to ensnare Reg's rook, win the exchange and the ending.

Sheraz Khalil (136) v Adam Tyton (164)

04/02/2019 - Blue I 6 Altrincham 1

As expected we went down to a heavy defeat at Blue Club. However, despite their bottom board having a higher grade than our second board, we put up a good fight on the lower boards which largely went the distance, whilst Mark W and Reg, with a smaller grading deficit, lost fairly quickly. Another fine win for Mark H on the top board who was seemingly unaffected by watching NFL until the early hours of the morning. My contribution was yet again winning the toss to give him white (and sadly give me black!).

15/01/2019 - Altrincham 2½ Stockport I 4½

Following yet another win of the toss by the captain (yes, I'm on a roll now!), Stockport got off to a flying start by winning all of their 3 games as white against Mark W, Kieran and me. However, there followed a plucky fight back with wins over much higher rated players for Sheraz and Vijay. The former was a crushing attack when material down, while the latter saw a 2 pawn endgame advantage converted to a win to preserve Vijay's current MCF performance of 180+ ! Eventually Mark H was ground down on top board as tends to happen sometimes against 200+ rated players! Reg had the initiative in his ending but eventually had to settle for a draw. (Tony Lane)

13/12/2018 - Bolton I 5 Altrincham 2 (Reyner Trophy)

A downside to our promotion to A division is that we are no longer eligible to enter the Wahltuch Trophy, which we won for the last two seasons. Instead we entered the Reyner Trophy, and suffered a predictable defeat, though not without a fight. (N.B. due to our success in the Wahltuch Trophy this was our first defeat in a MCF knock-out competition for nearly 3 years!). There were no games that were over quickly, and we seemed to be well in contention after the two Marks drew on boards 1 & 2. However, Bill and Reg were gradually ground down, and Tony was unable to hold an endgame with two pawns for a Bishop, despite almost winning on time when his opponent's clock ran down to 1 second at one stage. Mike had a good position and an extra pawn until he prematurely decided to exchange Rooks, which led to his defeat. But the star performer was again Vijay, whose win is shown below. His opponent currently has no ECF grade, but his FIDE rating of 1870 is equivalent to ECF 156, and already this season has a win over Chorlton's Stan Foulkes (160) and a draw with Blue Club's Lee Kay (177).

Simeon Sakic vs Vijay Kakarparthi

28/11/2018 - 3Cs II 4½ Altrincham 2½

A close match, even though 3Cs second team was not much weaker (in terms of average grade) than their first team that we played last month. We had a stronger team this time, with Sheraz, Dave and our new signing Kieran all available, but were still outgraded by 20 points per board. First to finish was Sheraz, despite arriving late - he played quickly and made a draw with the Black pieces. After defeats for Dave and Kieran, Reg then pulled it back to 1½-2½, though was lucky his opponent missed a clear win, and shortly afterwards blundered a piece due to overlooking a back rank mate threat. Mark W was under a strong Kingside attack, but seemed to have blocked up the position well until his opponent's exchange sacrifice forced mate. Tony escaped from a bad position to reach possibly a slightly better Queen ending, but with time running out took a perpetual check. Mark H also drew on board 1, in a level Rook and pawn ending, though both players ran their time very low before agreeing a draw.

23/10/2018 - Altrincham 1 3Cs I 6

After our encouraging start to the season at Chorlton, we were reminded of the harsh reality of life in A division in this meeting with 3Cs, who have won the division for the last 6 seasons. It didn't help that Sheraz, Dave and Nick were unavailable, although their replacements Vijay, Mike and Peter put up a good fight against opposition who outgraded us by over 40 points per board on average. In fact Vijay was the hero of the night - with an advantage of Queen + Bishop + a couple of extra pawns v two Rooks, he was only denied a win by time shortage, eventually accepting a draw after a long period of playing on increments. Our other draw came from a solid performance by Mark H on board 1, with Mark W, Reg and Tony all losing.

02/10/2018 - Chorlton I 3½ Altrincham 3½

Our first A division match since 2004 and we could hardly have wished for a better start to the season, drawing with a Chorlton team who had an average grading advantage of 20 points per board. Sheraz lost quickly, when his opponent found a clever piece sacrifice to lure his King out into the open. This was followed by a defeat for Nick, countered by a win for Bill, then a draw for Dave. On board 1 Mark H struggled to find the best way to combat his opponent's 3.Bd3 in the French, and when he resigned we were down 1½-3½. However Reg had won a piece due to his opponent missing a mate threat, and duly converted, and soon afterwards Tony's material advantage allowed him to force mate despite the presence of two enemy Rooks on his second rank. It is worth noting that the three games we won in this match are more than we won in the whole of our previous season in A division in 2003/4!

Sheraz Khalil (140) vs Ron Doney (162)
(PGN viewer by

Reg Clucas (154) vs Daniel Lee (178)

2017-18 Team Captain's report

This was our fourth successive year in Division B after our promotion as Division C champions in 2013/14. Last year no teams were relegated, so we played 6 teams who were in the division last year plus relegated Denton and promoted Heywood 2. Of those 6, we had finished last year above only Urmston and Worsley. They again finished the season bottom of the pile, but we excelled finishing above all the other teams bar Bolton 2 to secure runners up spot with 10 points and achieve promotion to Division A by virtue of a better board count than Blue 2.

Our season started with a match against the ultimate champions Bolton 2 who we held to a draw. We then lost narrowly at Heywood 2 when Mark Whalley's aversion to time pressure, albeit in this case his opponent's, resulted in a stalemate rather than the win required to draw the match. We then started our defence of the Wahltuch Trophy, and this time Mark made sure of a win that saw us through to the semi-final in a 4:3 victory at Urmston. Our next league match saw a comfortable 6½:½ win against a weakened Blue 2 who defaulted 2 boards. This was followed by Worsley defaulting their home match against us at such a late stage that 2 of our players had already arrived at their venue! Although we then lost 5:2 to Bury at the end of January, that was to be our last defeat of the season. We followed it up with a cup semi-final win 4:3 win against Chorlton 2, a 5:2 win against Urmston and a draw with Chorlton 2. Finally, we finished the season with a flourish, pulling off a second Wahltuch Trophy win in succession, and securing promotion with a 6:1 win at Denton.

The cup final at Blue 2 actually finished 3½ points each with Blue 2 apparently winning on board count. Reg and Mark Hann had both drawn at the end of the match, believing that they had failed to get the one and a half points required to retain the trophy. The mood in the car was therefore a little despondent as we made the return journey home. I then offered a small ray of hope, suggesting that their bottom board may not have played the required minimum 2 matches in the season, and in the event this proved to be the case, and his ineligibility resulted in us retaining the trophy. We felt that the rules should be amended to avoid this happening again, so we prompted a subsequent modification of the rules at the last MCF AGM which will improve matters going forward.

The season saw us return to the norm of a dozen players representing the club. Yaroslav left during last season but we welcomed Danilo who debuted with a win on top board at Denton in the last match. Sheraz was a welcome addition to the pool, effectively compensating for the loss of Richard who decided to have a break. He was one of this year's nucleus of 6 players who played at least 7 matches. Both Marks, Reg and myself played in all 10 matches, and as I played on the lower boards I was again able to score the most points, my 6½ just pipping Reg's 6 compared to 5 and 4½ for the 2 Marks. Dave and Sheraz played 8 and 7 games scoring 5½ and 4 points respectively. Outside that nucleus, Nick was a top percentage scorer with 75% from his 4 games, Bill scored over 60% from his 4, and Vijay, Tom Tomkins and Peter played a further 4 between them.

It goes without saying that I am greatly indebted to the continued support of all the team members, whose efforts were rewarded with promotion and a successful defence of the Wahltuch trophy in my 25th year of captaincy. In all that time, I have only captained us once in the elite A Division. That was in 2003/04 after promotion was achieved largely due to a top board 100% performance from Andrew Walden in his 9 league matches, Unfortunately, Andrew then moved to Southampton which undoubtedly contributed to our immediate relegation back to B Division. That year we lost all our 9 matches and our board count was a miserable 9 for and 54 against. To this day the late Kurt Linke remains the only player to win a match for the club in A Division, a feat he achieved twice. Although the season ahead promises to be a tough one, I am confident that we have the players able to replicate his achievements even if the club struggles to retain its top flight status.

Tony Lane
11 September 2018
Date Competition Opponents H/A Result Score
14/11/2017 B Division Bolton II H Draw 3½-3½
29/11/2017 B Division Heywood II A Lost 3-4
14/12/2017 Wahltuch Trophy Urmston I A Won 4-3
09/01/2018 B Division Blue II H Won 6½-½
16/01/2018 B Division Worsley A Won 7-0
30/01/2018 B Division Bury H Lost 2-5
06/03/2018 Wahltuch Trophy Chorlton II H Won 4-3
20/03/2018 B Division Urmston I H Won 5-2
01/05/2018 B Division Chorlton II A Draw 3½-3½
14/05/2018 Wahltuch Trophy Final Blue II A Won 4-3
23/05/2018 B Division Denton I A Won 6-1

23/05/2018 - Denton I 1 Altrincham 6

Our final match of the season had a lot riding on it - the winner would overtake Blue Club II for second place in the division, with the opportunity for promotion to A division, whilst a drawn match would mean that Blue Club II would hold on to second place. Denton were missing some regular players, whilst we were boosted by the inclusion of our new player Danilo on board 1, and he got us off to a great start with a quick win, closely followed by Nick and Mark H, whose speculative sacrifice of knight for 2 pawns seemed to faze his opponent. Reg then once again won an equal endgame after his opponent declined a draw, so at 4-0 the match was already decided. Tony won the exchange early on and after surviving some pressure converted the advantage, as did Dave to make the score 6-0. Denton were spared the whitewash when Mark W came off worst in a quickplay finish lottery.

So all in all an excellent season in both Manchester League competitions.

14/05/2018 - Blue II 3 Altrincham 4 (Wahltuch Trophy)

We became one of a small number of teams who have won the Wahltuch Trophy in successive years, though not in the way we would have wished. We had only nine eligible players for the final, two of whom were unavailable, but fortunately the other seven made it and we didn't have to default a board as in last year's semi-final. We had a grading advantage of an average 10 points per board, but were not expecting a repeat of the easy victory in January's League match between the two teams. And so it proved, with an early defeat for Sheraz, who may have been suffering the after effects of taking part in the 3 Peaks challenge over the weekend, getting a bad position from the opening and not recovering. Bill finished next with a draw on board 7, managing to hold a Rook and minor piece ending where his opponent had a dangerous looking pawn majority on one side. Dave then levelled the scores, never looking in any danger, and Tony won in a double edged game where his opponent made a misjudgement which lost material. The scores were level again when Mark W lost, ending up several pawns down in a hopeless position. So all depended on boards 1 & 3, where Mark H and Reg, both with Black pieces, needed at least a win and a draw, as a tied match would leave Blue Club winners on board count. Reg's game was pretty much level throughout, finishing in a drawn King & pawn ending. And Mark had an ending with R+3P vs R+4P, with all pawns on the same side - this is usually drawn, but certainly no winning chances for Mark with the 3 pawns. So we left the venue somewhat disappointed, with the score 3½-3½, but Blue Club's wins on boards 2 & 5 giving them a better board count than our wins on 4 & 6.

However, it transpired that the Blue Club player on board 7 was ineligible, having not played the required minimum of 2 matches during the season. This meant that Bill's draw became a win by default, so we won the match 4-3.

So not the ideal way to win, leaving us with mixed feelings. Of course we have suffered under this rule in the past ourselves, in fact even in this match there was some doubt as to whether we would have enough eligible players. But it seems unfair that a rule intended to prevent teams bringing in 'ringers' for Cup Finals should be applied to lower graded players. We intend to propose a modification to this rule at the MCF AGM.

01/05/2018 - Chorlton II 3½ Altrincham 3½

We have a history of close matches with Chorlton II, and this one too went right to the wire. Sheraz set the tone with a quick draw. Tony also drew, and Mark H had what is becoming a customary draw with Austin Elliott. A defeat for Tom was balanced by a win for Bill on the two lower boards, then Mark W also agreed a draw to make it 3-3. All eyes turned to the remaining game where Reg's opponent tried for many moves to win a text book drawn Rook ending before finally conceding a draw with each player down to less than a minute on the clock.

20/03/2018 - Altrincham 5 Urmston I 2

Mark W was first to finish with a draw on board 2, closely followed by Sheraz who had a Knight v Bishop ending with equal pawns with no winning prospects. Reg also looked to be heading for a draw, but managed to get an advantageous endgame and subsequently won. This was followed by wins by Tony and Nick against lower graded players who put up a prolonged resistance - Nick was lucky to survive blundering a Rook. Meanwhile, Mark H was living on increments, and in the complications found himself almost in zugzwang and had to resign. Last to finish was Dave, 2 pawns up in a winning position but both players short of time. At this point his opponent overstepped the time limit, but Dave didn't notice and played a move which blundered away his Queen. To the horror of his watching team mates it looked as though he was about to resign, but then noticed his opponent's flag had fallen so was able to claim the win.

John Hopkins (144) vs Reg Clucas (151)

06/03/2018 - Altrincham 4 Chorlton II 3 (Wahltuch Trophy)

We reached the Wahltuch Trophy final again after a closely contested semi-final. Grades were fairly well balanced, apart from board 7 where Peter Hawes came in as a late substitute against Chorlton's Peter Horwell who is graded 30 points higher. There were draws early on for Sheraz and Reg, satisfactory results as both had the Black pieces. Dave then also drew, in a minor piece ending with no winning chances for either side. The match then swung in our direction with a win for Tony on board 6 after he won a piece. Meanwhile on board 2 Mark W was engaged in another wild tactical battle, and this time the tactics worked out in his favour as he also emerged a piece up. We were now assured of winning the match, as even if boards 1 & 7 were lost we would win on lower board elimination tiebreak (board count being equal). But we didn't need a tiebreak as it turned out. Peter was putting up a great performance, and seemed to be holding his own until a late error allowed his opponent in for a mate. But Mark H on board 1 was two pawns up with no compensation for his opponent, normally a position he would win easily, but with time running short and the match already in the bag he agreed a draw.

30/01/2018 - Altrincham 2 Bury 5

Bury are having a good season and have a 100% record in the League, but only outgraded us slightly so the margin of defeat was a bit disappointing. There were draws for the two Marks, Dave and Sheraz (playing against his old club) and defeats for Reg, Tony and Bill.

16/01/2018 - Worsley 0 Altrincham 7

Worsley defaulted the fixture at such a late stage that two of us had already arrived at the venue!

09/01/2018 - Altrincham 6½ Blue II ½

Blue Club only named 6 players, one of whom did not turn up, so we were always going to be favourites to win the match with a 2-0 start. Sheraz won fairly quickly. Reg also won in 24 moves, and Mark W showed good technique in winning a Bishop ending with equal material. Mark H drew on board one after 14 moves, though both players had consumed a lot of time. The last game to finish, and probably the most interesting, was Tony's, where after a tense struggle his opponent won a pawn, but then went too passive, after which Tony quickly took control, culminating with his opponent blundering his Queen.

14/12/2017 - Urmston I 3 Altrincham 4 (Wahltuch Trophy)

As holders, we received a bye to the quarter final, and began our defence of the Wahltuch Trophy with a narrow victory. The match was mainly decided on the lower boards, where Vijay and Nick had fairly quick victories. With short draws by Reg and Dave this put us 3-1 up. Mark W then clinched the match, with his pressure against his opponent's crippled pawn structure resulting in the win of a pawn, after which his opponent hastened his own demise by allowing the exchange of both pairs of Rooks to leave Mark a simple pawn ending. Just as well, because things were not going well on the two remaining boards, with Tony battling unsuccessfully a piece down after having given up a chance of perpetual, and Mark H pressing too hard for a win in a level minor piece ending, resulting in a rare defeat.

29/11/2017 - Heywood II 4 Altrincham 3

A match we should really have got something from. We struggled on the odd boards with the Black pieces, with Mark H and Dave on boards 1 & 3 under pressure but managing to draw - in Dave's case, he found a perpetual in a virtually lost position. However Tony was unable to prevent defeat on board 5, and Vijay seemed to have the draw in hand until his opponent sacrificed a bishop for two pawns - it may not have been sound but was a good practical choice with Vijay short of time, and he was unable to hold. We did better with the White pieces. Bill had a good win. Reg had a drawish Rook ending until his opponent blundered by exchanging Rooks leaving Reg a winning pawn ending which he then misplayed, so had to take a draw after all. Last to finish was Mark W, needing a win to tie the match. He was down the exchange for a pawn, but still had chances as his opponent was well down on time after having arrived late, and duly blundered a Rook leaving Mark a simple win. He promoted a pawn, but despite having plenty of time left he then seemed to get caught up in his opponent's time scramble and allowed a stalemate.

14/11/2017 - Altrincham 3½ Bolton II 3½

A satisfying result, as we have lost to Bolton in each of the last three seasons. The match score reflected the gradings of the two teams, which were very close. First blood went to Bolton, with Nick losing on board 7. Reg then drew on board 2, with both players having Queen, Rook and opposite colour Bishops, and both having a passed d-pawn supported by their respective Bishop which made progress or elimination of the opponent's pawn very difficult. Tony then levelled the score with a Queen manoeuvre which won a piece. We went one down again when Mark W succumbed to his opponent's tripled heavy pieces on the f file. Dave then drew on board 3, with most of the pieces still on the board but with neither player having an advantage. At 3-2 down things did not look too good as Sheraz was a pawn down, but had some counterplay against his opponent's King, in addition to a significant clock advantage, and it was time shortage that eventually proved decisive as his opponent blundered first the extra pawn, and soon after a piece. At 3-3 the match depended on the outcome of Mark Hann's game on board 1, which Mark felt he ought to have won earlier, but ended in a drawn double rook & pawn endgame.

Tony Lane (138) vs Ian Lamb (135)

2016-17 Team captain's report

After promotion as Division C champions in 2013/14, we struggled to maintain our Division B status. Our 6 points in 2014/15 was enough to secure 7th position, but 1 point less in 2015/16 left us 9th out of 10 and facing relegation back to Division C. However, following the composition of the divisions for the 2016/17 season, only Chorlton 3 below us were relegated, while Heywood 2 chose to play in Division C rather than be promoted to Division A. This enabled us to repeat our tally of 6 points in Division B, which saw us finish comfortably 4 points clear of both Urmston and Worsley. Even if we had finished bottom of the pile, the composition of divisions would have again preserved our Division B status, as only Denton 1 were relegated from Division A while two teams were promoted to the top division and only Heywood 2 were promoted back into Division B, giving 9 teams in that division without the need for any relegation.

Although a respectable finish in Division B is always an aim at the start of the season, initial cup results had us dreaming of glory from the outset. In fact the season started with alternate cup and league matches which saw us beat Denton 2 4 ½:2½ and 3Cs3 5:2 while losing league matches to Chorlton 2 5:2 and 3Cs2 4:3. Although we now found ourselves in the semi-final of the cup, it was just before Christmas when we finally secured our first league win at Urmston 4:3. League form was no better in the New Year with a 4:3 defeat at Worsley, their only points of the season, and a 5:2 defeat at Bolton 2. Confidence therefore was not particularly high when we played our semi-final against Chorlton 3, but despite a last minute default we secured a 5:2 victory. Our league position was then boosted by a walkover against Blue 2, who having previously confirmed they would be visiting our club, were then unable to field a team on the night. It felt like a walkover in the next match as well for Stockport 2 where we lost 6:1, with Mark and Reg securing impressive draws on the top 2 boards. League respectability was then assured with our final league match, a 4½:2½ win against Bury, and the season ended in glory with a 4:3 victory at 3Cs2 to secure the Wahltuch Trophy. Reg's report on our website charitably refers to my captain's clinching win at the end, but this was a real team performance. Mark and Dave lost on the top boards but paved the way for success by enabling the rest of us to secure three wins and two draws on the lower boards.

We normally have about a dozen members playing for the team during the season, but there were actually 15 this year, 5 of whom played just a single match. Following his move, Karl was only able to get back for the opening cup match of the season which he won. Steve Douglas won his match at Urmston in our opening league victory, while Thomas Hague played at Stockport 2 and Vijay and Steve Ward played at Bolton 2, with Vijay getting a good draw on his debut. Due to work commitments elsewhere, Yaroslav was again only able to play in three of the early matches in the season. However, his place in the nucleus of the side of six players who consistently play 7 or more matches during a season was taken by Mark Hann. Initially, as Mark was returning to chess after an absence, he played on board 6, but after just 2 games, he played the rest of the season on the top 3 boards, and was our board 1 player for the last 4 matches. He went unbeaten until the final game of the season in the cup final when he eventually lost to Phil Adams of 3Cs2.

The other five regular players all scored relatively well. In 2015/16, I had managed to play every match and top the scoring with 7 points from 12 games, and I am pleased to say that despite missing one match this season I still managed 7 points and topped the scoring again. However, Mark Hann's 6 points from his nine games left him annoyingly with a percentage record 3% better than my own. The other four regulars, Reg, Mark Whalley, Bill and Nick scored well with 5½, 4½, 3½ and 2½ points respectively. Mark's percentage score was actually beaten by Tom Tomkins who won three of his four matches. Dave Newell managed a very respectable 40% from the five games he played on the top 2 boards and although Richard lost on board 2 he secured two draws on board 4 in his other matches.

All that remains, is for me to again thank all the team members for their continued support, both the regular players and those that are happy to make the occasional appearance, often at the more remote league locations to ensure we avoid any defaults. It was particularly satisfying this season that we had some success to show for our efforts, with the Wahltuch trophy returning to Altrincham and Hale for the first time in 9 years.

Tony Lane
5 September 2017
Date Competition Opponents H/A Result Score
20/09/2016 Wahltuch Trophy Denton II H Won 4½-2½
04/10/2016 B Division Chorlton II H Lost 2-5
17/11/2016 Wahltuch Trophy 3Cs III A Won 5-2
29/11/2016 B Division 3Cs II H Lost 3-4
15/12/2016 B Division Urmston I A Won 4-3
10/01/2017 B Division Worsley A Lost 3-4
26/01/2017 B Division Bolton II A Lost 2-5
21/02/2017 Wahltuch Trophy Chorlton III H Won 5-2
28/02/2017 B Division Blue II H Won 7-0
11/04/2017 B Division Stockport II A Lost 1-6
02/05/2017 B Division Bury I H Won 4½-2½
17/05/2017 Wahltuch Trophy Final 3Cs II A Won 4-3

17/05/2017 - 3Cs II 3 Altrincham 4 (Wahltuch Trophy Final)

The Wahltuch Trophy - won by Altrincham & Hale in 1992, 2008....and 2017!

We won the Wahltuch Trophy! Following his first important contribution in winning the toss and giving us an extra White, Tony then played a "captain's innings" to clinch an exciting 4-3 win by winning the final game with a minute left on his clock, when a draw would have meant losing the match on board count tiebreak.

3Cs had the same seven players that played us in November's League match. We had just two changes from that match, with Mark Hann replacing Yaroslav and Bill replacing Richard. That match had finished 4-3 to 3Cs, so another close match was always likely.

Board 1: Mark Hann (159) 0-1 Phil Adams (181) Mark - "This was, disappointingly, my worst game this year. I got a terrible position in my usually trusty Nimzo-Larsen and spent far too much time trying to find decent moves. Having freed my position at the cost of a pawn, I was confident of holding, even with 2 knights vs 2 bishops. However, a series of bad choices immediately prior to the time control left me with an unenviable position, which I resigned. A great game by 3Cs' captain Phil Adams, who continually made accurate choices at key times and he deservedly kept his season-long unbeaten record whilst ending mine. My disappointment was 95% relieved when I learned of Tony's victory."
Board 2: Joao Rita (178) 1-0 Dave Newell (153) Dave - "My game was going well then my opponent made an error allowing me to win a piece for a pawn but unfortunately leaving me a very difficult position in which he was attacking strongly. Of course Fritz could win it easily but short of time I didn't find the best defence and eventually lost on time with 2 rooks and 3 pawns against a rook knight and 5 pawns."
Board 3: Reg Clucas (147) ½-½ Michael Tebelev (160) I found myself in a variation of the French Tarrasch with which I was unfamiliar, but despite not finding the 'book' moves had a pleasant advantage after 28 moves. My opponent then blundered the exchange for a pawn, leaving me in a completely won position. At this point my play became seriously sub-optimal, allowing my opponent counterplay until the following position was reached, which I thought I was even in danger of losing.

Board 4: Paul Keech (147) 0-1 Mark Whalley (138) An excellent win by Mark against an opponent who had only lost one of his previous twelve MCF games this season. After an unremarkable French Exchange variation, Mark won a pawn and was already doing pretty well when the following position was reached -

Board 5: Tony Lane (140) 1-0 Kevin Ye (138) As mentioned above, this was the last game to finish, with the match score tied at 3-3. After 51 moves the following position was reached with Black to move.
Despite the computer evaluation of something like +2.5, with very little time left this position looks difficult for White to win if Black gets his King to g6/h7 to protect the h pawn. By now Tony had stopped scoring so we don't know exactly what happened, but after exchange of Queens Tony won the h pawn and ended up with a Rook on h8, with his opponent forced to give up the exchange for the g pawn. There was now an easy win by simply sacrificing back the exchange to reach a trivially winning pawn ending. The only question was whether Tony, with just a minute left and no increments, would have time to physically make the necessary moves. However his young opponent very graciously resigned at this point.

Board 6: Ahmed Abbas (123) ½-½ Bill McCartney (134) Bill - "It was a very unorthodox Alekhine defence which my opponent played very passively and gave me a pawn. I did not take full advantage of this gift and made a slight blunder in not considering a discovered check. This was not fatal but meant that I lost momentum and finally agreed a draw." The final position below seems completely equal, with Bill (Black, to move) unable to prevent the loss of his extra pawn due to the double attack on a7 & d5.
Board 7: Nick Lowe (130) 1-0 John Walton (105) This finished quite quickly and I didn't see any of it - hopefully Nick will provide some comments!

02/05/2017 - Altrincham 4½ Bury I 2½

The last match in our league programme was a satisfying win, not only because Bury are a strong club (they beat us 6-1 last season) but also because it means that we have avoided relegation by our own efforts without having to rely on the default win against Blue Club. Boards 1 to 5 were evenly matched, but we scored 4-1 on these boards yet only managed half a point on boards 6 & 7 where we had a large grading advantage. First to finish were Richard and Bill, both with solid draws. Reg then put us ahead, beating John Grindrod who was previously unbeaten in the Manchester League this season, after a series of blunders by both players. One person who didn't lose his unbeaten record was Mark Hann, who won comfortably on board 1, saying afterwards that he wasn't too happy with his play, but computer analysis doesn't find anything wrong with it - judge for yourself below. Dave then agreed a draw on board 2, in a game that seemed level throughout. Mark W then clinched the match with a win in which he had to demonstrate that he knew how to mate in the rarely seen endgame of K + 2B vs K. (His opponent Sheraz Khalil is moving to the Altrincham area and will be playing for us next season). Tony seemed set for a draw in a Rook & opposite colour Bishop ending, but an inaccuracy let his opponent in and Tony had to give up the exchange but to no avail.

Bernard Sharples (159) vs Mark Hann (159)

11/04/2017 - Stockport II 6 Altrincham 1

A repeat of last season's result in this fixture, the only difference this time being that our two draws came on boards 1 & 2 rather than 6 & 7. Outgraded by over 30 points per board on average, the result was hardly a surprise. On board 1 it was the most serious test so far of Mark Hann's unbeaten record, against Joshua Pink, graded 174 but performing at over 190 in both Manchester & Stockport leagues this season. Joshua opened with 1.b4, the Orang Utan opening, which is positively mainstream compared to 1.c3 that he played against me (Reg) last year. Mark was unfazed, and although consuming a lot of time had no trouble securing a draw. On board 2 I also faced an unusual opening from Daniel Sheppard - 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d6?! I felt that I played the opening badly and had drifted into a bad position, but in fact the computer shows I was slightly better for much of the game. Then when I did achieve a lost position, with Daniel's b pawn reaching the 7th rank, I managed to create some threats against his uncastled King which I thought might even give me winning chances. Daniel apparently agreed, so gave up the dangerous pawn, but again the computer shows there was a simple refutation of my attack. As things turned out, after eliminating the pawn I just had to make a couple of accurate moves to reach a drawn ending. On board 3 Mark W lost the exchange early on but put up a prolonged resistance before losing. I didn't see any of the other four games, in which Tony, Nick, Tom & Thomas were unable to overcome the large grading deficit.

28/02/2017 - Altrincham 7 Blue II 0

Won by default - Blue Club advised us a couple of days before the match that they were unable to raise a team.

21/02/2017 - Altrincham 5 Chorlton III 2 (Wahltuch Trophy semi-final)

We struggled to find enough eligible players for this match (for the semi-final all players must have played at least two games earlier in the season) and when Mark W had to drop out due to illness there was no-one to replace him so we defaulted board 7. However, the six remaining players won the match comfortably, despite only a small grading advantage, with wins by Dave, Reg, Bill and Tom and draws by Mark H and Tony, thus reaching the final of a competition that we last won in 2008. We have had the luck of the draw in this competition, in that our three fixtures so far have been against C division teams. The final will be a bit harder, against either Urmston or 3Cs II, against both of whom we have had close matches in the League this season. This will likely be in May - watch this space!

26/01/2017 - Bolton II 5 Altrincham 2

We were only able to raise 6 players for this match, but still managed a better result than on our last visit to Bolton, when we only managed one draw between the entire team. Steve Ward and Vijay were drafted in to the lower boards, and both did well, with Steve putting up a prolonged resistance before losing, and Vijay doing even better, drawing with an opponent graded 35 points higher. Other draws came from Tony, Mark Whalley and Reg, the latter having a two pawn winning advantage which slipped away under time pressure.

10/01/2017 - Worsley 4 Altrincham 3

A nailbiting finish to this match, resulting in a narrow defeat. Things looked good early on, with quick wins from Tony and Tom on the bottom boards where we had a grading advantage, and Mark H drew on board 2. Reg and Mark W were both involved in equal knight & pawn endings - Mark's game had a symmetrical pawn structure and was duly drawn, but Reg failed to find the correct way of dealing with his opponent's passed pawn, so we were now only 3-2 up. Bill was material down and unable to halt his opponent's connected passed pawns, so at 3-3 the match depended on Nick's game. In a level position his opponent declined a draw, so with increments not being used and neither player having a significant advantage, the game and match depended on who could move the quickest. Nick's time ran out with just 4 seconds remaining on his opponent's clock. All very exciting, but rather a silly way to decide the outcome of a chess game.

15/12/2016 - Urmston 3 Altrincham 4

Another close match, but this time in our favour. Tony and Steve D had comfortable wins on boards 6 & 7, but the remaining games were evenly matched. Yaroslav was playing Robert Furness, who only resumed playing this year after a 16 year break but has already had some impressive results. Yaroslav had a piece for three pawns, but on this occasion the pawns proved stronger, and with Nick also losing the scores were level. Bill and I (Reg) both drew - in my case, after an uncomfortable opening I was able to exchange into a level endgame. So once again the match depended on the last game to finish, which this time was Mark Hann. Mark had a dominating position, with several extra pawns, but there was a real risk he would not have enough time to overcome his opponent's stubborn blockade of his passed pawns. But Mark found a clever Rook sacrifice to deflect a blockading Knight, after which the pawns were able to advance decisively.

29/11/2016 - Altrincham 3 3Cs II 4

A hard fought match, with the average grades of the teams almost identical. However, 3Cs had a bigger spread of grades from top to bottom, and this was perfectly reflected in the game results, with wins for us on boards 6 & 7, draws on 4 & 5, and the visitors winning the top three boards. Tony and Nick had comfortable wins, with draws for Mark W and Richard. Yaroslav was slowly crushed on board 1, and Dave's opponent showed good calculation, seeing a winning combination several moves ahead. At 3-3 the match depended on my (Reg) game on board 3, where after a complex encounter I reached an endgame up the exchange for a pawn, with at least a draw in prospect and maybe even a win. However I blundered back the exchange, and the resulting rook and pawn ending a pawn down was untenable.

17/11/2016 - 3Cs III 2 Altrincham 5 (Wahltuch Trophy)

A more emphatic victory this time. We were boosted by the return of Yaroslav on board 1, and he drew in a complex Benoni which eventually petered out into a level endgame. Before that, Tom had got us off to a perfect start, winning a rook early on and the game shortly afterwards. Tony, Mark W and Reg all made good use of the White pieces, putting on pressure until their opponents succumbed. Bill and Mark H had to face two of 3Cs' fast improving juniors, both aged 12. Bill lost, but Mark's solid French defence was enough to draw.

20/09/2016 - Altrincham 4½ Denton II 2½ (Wahltuch Trophy)

We embarked on another cup run with a rather lucky win. We outgraded all our opponents but they put up a stiff resistance. We won the three lower boards thanks to Bill, Tony and our new member Mark Hann, who is returning to chess after a 12 year break. Defeats for Mark Whalley and Nick, and a draw for Reg left the match depending on Karl's game on board 1. Defeat for Karl would tie the match, in which case Denton would win on board count, but that never looked likely as Karl was a healthy two pawns up. However, as both players' time ran short Karl blundered, placing his queen on a square where a simple knight fork would win it. Fortunately for us, the only other person in the room who didn't see it was Karl's opponent, and a few moves later Karl had won to give us a slightly flattering winning margin.

2015-16 Team captain's report

Last year, we had held our own in Division B after promotion as Division C champions in 2013-14. That year we finished 7th with 6 points above Chorlton 3 and the relegated Chorlton 4 and Stockport 3. Sadly, I have to report that this year despite obtaining only 1 point fewer than last year and scoring 25 game points as opposed to just 23½ the year before, we were only able to stay above Chorlton 3 again, finishing 9th out of 10 and facing relegation back to Division C.

The season had started promisingly, with a draw in the cup against Urmston 2 which we won on board count. This was followed by an excellent result in our first league match away to relegated Chorlton 2. However, a horror show at newly promoted Bury where we were defeated 6:1 would prove decisive, given that Bury ultimately were to finish just 2 points above us in the league. We recovered well after our set back at Bury to again draw with Chorlton 2, this time in the cup, and once again board count saw us through to the semi-final. Our first league victory was to follow at Chorlton 3 by a margin of 4½:2½. We were then edged out of our cup final by a closely fought match at Blue Club 2 where we lost 4½:2½ in the semi-final.

Disappointment from our cup defeat seemed to affect morale for the second half of the season when we crashed to 5 defeats from 6. In the immediate aftermath of the semi-final, we lost 4½:2½ at home to Bolton 2, and although we scored our most convincing victory 5½:1½ against Blue Club 2 to avenge our cup defeat, this was followed by 4 more defeats. We lost again by the margin 4½:2½ at home to Heywood 2 and then away at 3Cs 3, and were heavily defeated 6:1 at Stockport 2 and 5:2 in the final match of the season against the champions Great Lever. Our poor performance in the latter part of the season was no doubt partly explained by the loss of our top board Yaroslav, who moved out of the area due to work commitments and missed the last 3 matches, and the absence of Dave Newell who had been a regular in the early part of the season. We also missed Karl Lockett following his move last season.

Twelve members played for us again during the season. The nucleus of the side was the same as last season, with the same 6 players playing 8 or more matches during the season. Yaroslav showed just how much we missed him by going unbeaten in his 8 matches, his 6 draws and 2 victories giving him an overall result of 62½% for the season, which could only be bettered by Thomas Hague's perfect 100% achieved by victory in the penultimate match at 3Cs. Whereas Reg had achieved the best overall result of 55% in 2014/15 he found life much harder this time around achieving 4 draws in his 11 matches, most of which were played on board 2, although he had to fill the gap left by Yaroslav and play top board in the last 3 matches. Whereas Reg had been our only ever-present last season, that privilege went to me this year and I was rewarded with 7 points from the 12 played. The next highest points scorer was Bill who achieved 50% from his 9 matches, and Mark and Nick scored 4 and 3½ points from their 10 and 9 matches respectively. Other players featuring during the year were Richard, Tom and Steve Douglas who all played 5 matches, Dave Newell who would have played 5 if his opponent had turned up in the first match of the season, and David Hughes who played 4. It was a welcome return after a lengthy absence from the club for Dave Newell who scored 50% from his games played including a top board draw at Blue Club. Richard also achieved 50% going unbeaten until the last game of the season against Great Lever. David and Tom showed their resilience by recovering later in the season with draws at Stockport and 3Cs, while Steve no doubt benefited from the experience of his games at this level.

My thanks as usual to all team members who fought so hard to keep us in the division. Their consolation will be that if our position is confirmed in Division C for next season they can be a part of a side to bounce straight back to Division B for the third time on the trot.

Tony Lane
30 August 2016
Date Competition Opponents H/A Result Score
15/09/2015 Wahltuch Trophy Urmston II H Won* 3½-3½
29/09/2015 B Division Chorlton II A Draw 3½-3½
20/10/2015 B Division Bury I A Lost 1-6
17/11/2015 Wahltuch Trophy Chorlton II H Won* 3½-3½
01/12/2015 B Division Chorlton III A Won 4½-2½
01/02/2016 Wahltuch Trophy Blue II A Lost 2½-4½
16/02/2016 B Division Bolton II H Lost 2½-4½
08/03/2016 B Division Blue II H Won 5½-1½
29/03/2016 B Division Heywood II H Lost 2½-4½
19/04/2016# B Division Stockport II A Lost 1-6
11/05/2016 B Division Three Cs III A Lost 2½-4½
24/05/2016 B Division Great Lever H Lost 2-5
* on board count
# Rearranged fixture

Full details of all matches and league tables can be found on the Manchester League website

24/05/2016 - Altrincham 2 Great Lever 5

Our final match of the season ended in defeat against the League champions, who have conceded just one drawn match this season. We had a forlorn hope of avoiding relegation if we could win this match, but as we were outgraded by over 30 points per board then realistically a 5-2 defeat was a respectable result. Credit goes to Tony and Mark who both drew, and even more so to Bill who won.

11/05/2016 - Three Cs III 4½ Altrincham 2½

We needed to win this match to have a realistic chance of avoiding relegation, but it was always going to be an uphill struggle with Yaroslav, Nick, Richard and Dave all missing. Once again their replacements performed well though, with David and Tom getting draws again and Thomas winning on board 7. Unfortunately Mark fell victim to a swindle in a winning position. Our other half point came from myself on board 1. I am still without a win in the Manchester League this season, but was relieved to end a run of defeats with a draw against one of 3Cs' current crop of fast improving young players.

Robert McLean (162) vs Reg Clucas (153)

19/04/2016 - Stockport II 6 Altrincham 1

We were heavily outgraded on the top five boards, though might have expected better than to lose all five. Tom and David on boards 6 & 7 were more evenly matched with their opponents, and both drew, the latter finding a perpetual check with only 2 minutes left on his clock. From my (Reg) point of view there was a novelty, in that it was the first time I had encountered the Saragossa Opening (1.c3); but any merits, or otherwise, of this opening, are irrelevant when you blunder the exchange after 16 moves!

29/03/2016 - Altrincham 2½ Heywood II 4½

Mark got us off to a good start with a quick win, but defeats followed for Reg, Bill and Nick. Yaroslav had the better chances in his game on board 1 but had to settle for a draw, as did Richard in a symmetrical pawn ending. Tony had a promising looking attack, but with the match already decided and time running short he too accepted a draw.

08/03/2016 - Altrincham 5½ Blue II 1½

We got our revenge for last month's Wahltuch Trophy defeat. We had a stronger team than on that occasion, and the sides were well matched in terms of grades. Winners were Yaroslav, Richard, Mark, Tony and Bill, with a draw from Nick.

16/02/2016 - Altrincham 2½ Bolton II 4½

The result was more or less as predicted by the grading difference between the two teams. There were good wins from Tony and Bill, who are both performing well above their grade this season, and the following solid draw from Yaroslav on board 1.

Yaroslav Kolodiy (170) vs Harry Lamb (172)

01/02/2016 - Blue II 4½ Altrincham 2½ (Wahltuch Trophy)

Our cup run came to an end with our under-strength team being outgraded on the lower boards. Tony and Nick had good wins against higher graded opponents, and Dave drew in an exciting finish with both players very short of time.

17/11/2015 - Altrincham 3½ Chorlton II 3½ (Wahltuch Trophy)

This match was very similar to September's League match between the two teams - once again we were outgraded by 10 points per board; again five of the seven games ended in draws, and again the match was tied. Yaroslav was first to finish, agreeing a draw after 9 symmetrical moves, then proceeding to play blitz with his opponent for the rest of the evening. Reg had to work a bit harder for a draw after blundering a pawn in the opening, but rather luckily getting a draw after initiating some unsound complications. Further draws came from Bill and Nick, but a loss for Steve D on board 7 meant things weren't looking too good, as Tony seemed to be getting the worse of his game. However, he turned it round nicely (see below), so everything now hinged on the last game to finish, Richard's. Another draw would suffice to see us through on the board count tie-break and Richard achieved this quite comfortably, missing a winning opportunity along the way but never looking like losing (though he did cause his watching team mates some consternation at one point by forgetting to press his clock!). So as in round 1 we went through on board count (Tony's win on board 5 outweighing the loss on board 7) and are now in the semi finals which will be played in February.

Alan Beresford (142) vs Tony Lane (130)

20/10/2015 - Bury 6 Altrincham 1

A heavy defeat against a Bury team who were at full strength. As in last week's Charnley Cup match it was left to Yaroslav to save a whitewash, with a nice win on board 1, see below. Tony lost on time in a trivially winning position - hopefully the MCF will legislate to enable more widespread use of incremental time controls which prevent injustices such as this. Reg made an opening inaccuracy which led to suffering for the entire game before eventually succumbing. The rest of the team was outgraded and were also unable to 'trouble the scorers' as they say in cricket.

Yaroslav Kolodiy (168) vs Roger Howley (170)
(PGN viewer by

29/09/2015 - Chorlton II 3½ Altrincham 3½

Chorlton were in A Division last season, so this was a tough test as we were outgraded by about 10 points per board. Mark was the only winner, but Yaroslav, Reg, Nick, Dave and Tony all drew to enable us to draw the match. A very encouraging start to the season.

15/09/2015 - Altrincham 3½ Urmston II 3½ (Wahltuch Trophy)

We scraped through to the next round with the aid of a default. Dave Newell was scheduled to play, returning to the club after many years, but he will have to wait a bit longer for his first match after his opponent failed to turn up. This gave us an early lead which was soon cancelled out when David Hughes lost. There followed draws from Reg and Mark before Tony won his opponent's queen to put us 3-2 up. Bill was unable to hold a knight and pawn endgame a pawn down, so the match now depended on Yaroslav on board 1. After seeming to have an advantage, he eventually reached a theoretically drawn rook & pawn endgame. With wins on boards 3 & 6 against Urmston's wins on boards 5 & 7, we went through on board count.

2014-15 Team captain's report

After our promotion at the first attempt last year we entered the season as Division C champions for our fifteenth season in Division B since joining the Manchester League in 1993/94.

I am beginning to think that the excellent match summaries compiled by Reg on the Club website make my report somewhat redundant, but for those of you who do not access that site, here is a brief summary of last season.

We often start the season with a Cup match, but this year the opening fixture was a league game at home to Stockport 3, which we duly won 5:2. The result was important as they had been promoted with us from Division C and were therefore likely to be one of the weaker teams in the division. Ultimately, this proved to be the case as they lost all their 9 matches to finish 3 points adrift at the bottom of the league. Shortly after, we played them in a Cup match again at home and with the assistance of a default on their bottom board. Their board 1 even went to Bury by mistake and arrived very late. In spite of all this, we could only draw the match and were eliminated from the Cup on board count.

Sandwiched in between the Stockport fixtures was a league match against a strong Heywood 2 team who beat us 5½:1½. We were then defeated by the same score against Blue Club, a newly formed team merging Oldham and Rochdale clubs, either of which would have been strong competition for us on their own. Blue Club were promoted at the end of the season as runners up to our next opponents 3Cs 2 who also beat us 5:2. The misery continued with a 6½:½ record defeat at Bolton 2 and a 5:2 defeat at Great Lever. However, both those score lines flattered our opponents, a point that was indeed made by the Bolton captain when submitting his comments with the result to the MCF website. The Bolton fixture was also affected by major traffic disruption which saw us all start the match stressed and already at a time disadvantage.

The last three fixtures of the season fortunately gave us a chance to play weaker teams in the division once more. Our victories by 4½:2½ at Chorlton 4 and 4:3 against Chorlton 3 either side of a 4½:2½ defeat to 3Cs 3 saw us finish 7th in the league above both Chorlton teams and Stockport 3.

Twelve members played for us during the season. Of these, six members formed the core of the team playing in at least 70% of the matches. A special mention is warranted for Reg, who was not only an ever-present, but achieved the best overall result of 55% for the season. Our higher boards generally again had very good results. Yaroslav and Nick both achieved 50%. Regular appearances during the season enabled myself, Bill and Mark to achieve the next highest scores of 3½, 3 and 2 points respectively. Karl and David both played four games and Richard three, Richard finished with 1½ points which was not only a respectable 50% but the same as the other two combined. Tom Tomkins and Steve both played two matches and Graham managed to fit one in as well, although Tom was the only one of the three to taste victory with a good win at the Blue Club.

Thanks once again to all team members who ensured we have yet another season to look forward to in Division B of the Manchester league when Chorlton and Stockport will now be represented by their relegated second teams, while Blue Club's promoted second team replaces their first team along with newly promoted Bury.

Tony Lane
8 September 2015
Date Competition Opponents H/A Result Score
30/10/2014 League Stockport 3 H Won 5-2
13/11/2014 League Heywood 2 H Lost 1½-5½
20/11/2014 Wahltuch Trophy Stockport 3 H Lost* 3½-3½
02/12/2014 League Blue Club 1 A Lost 1½-5½
22/01/2015 League Three Cs 2 H Lost 2-5
19/02/2015 League Bolton 2 A Lost ½-6½
26/03/2015 League Great Lever 1 A Lost 2-5
07/04/2015 League Chorlton 4 A Won 4½-2½
12/05/2015# League Three Cs 3 H Lost 2½-4½
19/05/2015# League Chorlton 3 H Won 4-3
* on board count
# Rearranged fixture

19/05/2015 - Altrincham 4 Chorlton 3rd 3

We finished the season with a win in a closely contested match, where there was only a small grading difference between the teams (slightly in Chorlton's favour). Tony got us off to a good start with a quick win on board 7. Yaroslav finished next, comfortably holding a draw against Bird's opening, despite being delayed and losing a lot of time on the clock. Further draws by Karl and Richard and a defeat for Bill left the match in the balance. Reg's opponent then exceeded the time limit in a drawish position, despite having had a 40 minute clock advantage at one stage. Nick then delivered the draw we needed to win the match, after his opponent did not have time to win a very difficult Rook & 2 pawns vs Rook & 1 pawn ending. This win lifted us above Chorlton so we finish 7th out of 10 teams.

12/05/2015 - Altrincham 2½ Three Cs 3rd 4½

There was nothing riding on this match as we are already safe from relegation. However we might have expected a better result since the grades were very evenly matched on five boards, and we had a significant grading advantage on the other two boards. But only Nick managed to win, with the rest of the team managing just three draws, from Yaroslav, Reg and Tony.

07/04/2015 - Chorlton 4th 2½ Altrincham 4½

We gave ourselves an excellent chance of avoiding relegation with this win against fellow strugglers Chorlton. Wins by Yaroslav, Tony and Bill and draws by Reg, Nick and David gave us two vital points.

26/03/2015 - Great Lever 5 Altrincham 2

Another difficult fixture with a big grading disadvantage on every board, but we came close to getting a result. Bill and Mark were first to finish, each with creditable draws. Steve and Reg each had an uphill battle after losing material early in the game, and with the score at 1-3 things did not look quite so good. But Yaroslav then recorded one of his best ever results with a win over British Senior champion Mike Surtees, and with David and Tony each going into the endgame with an extra pawn there was every chance we could tie or even win the match. Unfortunately both made losing blunders in the quickplay finish to leave the final score 2-5.

19/02/2015 - Bolton 2nd 6½ Altrincham ½

A grading deficit of over 20 points per board on average was made worse by horrendous traffic delays which meant we were all behind on the clock before play started. In these circumstances the heavy defeat was not surprising, though Mark did well to draw, especially as he lost more time than any of us, a good half hour or more. We did have some good games though - my own, given below is quite interesting.

Play online chess

22/01/2015 - Altrincham 2 Three Cs 2nd 5

We were unable to end 3Cs' 100% record as they head back to A division, from which they were relegated last season. However we had four very satisfying individual results, with Yaroslav, Reg, Bill and Tony all obtaining draws against much higher rated opponents.

02/12/2014 - Blue Club 5½ Altrincham 1½

Blue Club were formed this season by combining the old Oldham and Rochdale clubs, and are too strong for this league. Certainly too strong for us, as we only managed a single draw, from Reg, on the top six boards. However, Tom in his first League match of the season had a good win on board 7 to make the score a bit more respectable.

20/11/2014 - Altrincham 3½ Stockport 3rd 3½ (Wahltuch Trophy)

We were unable to repeat our emphatic win over Stockport three weeks ago, despite a grading advantage of about 20 points per board, and our opponents defaulting on board 7. Things looked fine when a quick win by Richard made it 2-0, with Nick a pawn up and Reg in a very strong position after his opponent misplayed the opening - furthermore, Yaroslav had a big time advantage as his opponent had first travelled to Bury by mistake! Reg duly won his game, but Nick was unable to convert a tricky endgame and had to settle for a draw. A defeat for Bill meant that we still required half a point from the top two boards to win the match. But Yaroslav's opponent proved to be good at rapidplay, and reached a won rook and pawn endgame. Mark also had a rook and pawn ending - a minimal one with a rook each, with his opponent having a single pawn, on the rook's file. Such endings are often drawn, but on this occasion Mark's king was too far away to prevent the pawn from queening, so this game was also lost, resulting in a tied match. This meant the board count tie-break came into operation, and this favoured Stockport with wins on boards 1, 2 & 5 against our wins on boards 3, 6 & 7.

13/11/2014 - Altrincham 1½ Heywood 2nd 5½

We were well beaten by a strong Heywood side, with only a single win by Reg and a draw from Karl. Below is Reg's game.

Play online chess

30/10/2014 - Altrincham 5 Stockport 3rd 2

Most of the teams in B division appear to have stronger squads than ourselves, so it was important to win this match against Stockport, who were promoted with us last season and are one of the few teams with (on paper) a weaker squad. We won fairly comfortably with wins from Yaroslav, Mark, Nick and Bill and draws from Reg and Tony.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

2013-14 Team captain's report

Last year I reported that whilst seven defeats out of nine were good enough to leave us four points clear of Eccles, it sadly left us two points adrift of the rest of the field, so that we were relegated to Division C where we had last played in 2007/08. My report ended "I am sure we will be rewarded with success in the forthcoming season" and I am pleased to confirm that the confidence I displayed in my team was fully justified. In 2007/08 we had immediately bounced back to Division B on finishing second, and this year we went one better by winning the Championship. We therefore now look forward to our fifteenth season in B Division since joining the Manchester League in 1993/94.

Winning the title, and even securing promotion, was by no means a formality. By the end of the season the league table showed only a two point difference between first and sixth, demonstrating the competitive nature of the season. Although earlier results indicated we were firm favourites for the Championship, later in the season we did our best to throw it away, although somehow our rivals contrived to outdo us in this respect. As usual, the season had started with a cup match which we duly won against our fellow relegated Eccles 4½:2½. We then went to Bury and hammered their second team 5½:1½ before a minor setback against Chorlton 4, where our top three boards won only to see the rest of the team lose. Our next five matches saw a cup exit to Chorlton 2 sandwiched between four excellent league victories against Worsley, Urmston 2, Denton 2 and Stockport 3 by comfortable victories ranging from 4½:2½ against Stockport to 6½:½ at Denton. This run took us to the top of the table with the same points as Chorlton with just two matches to play, one against Eccles, whom we had beaten in the Cup and who had only won one match all season against the bottom team Bury, and the other against 3Cs who were without a win all season. I personally contributed to 3Cs' first success of the season by throwing away a game I was comfortably winning by losing on time resulting in a 4:3 defeat, and we then followed that up with a draw against Eccles despite the fact that they defaulted on the bottom board. We therefore finished the season with eleven points from our eight league matches despite a healthy favourable board points difference of seventeen. Chorlton still had eleven points with two matches to play, albeit one of which was against Stockport who had six points with three games to play, and therefore had an outside chance of the title. Stockport's chances improved significantly when they defeated Chorlton 4:3. 3Cs then showed that our loss there was not as bad a result as it seemed, as they won 5:2 at Chorlton and followed that up with two more wins thereby adding four victories to their initial four defeats in the season. So Chorlton, also finished the season on eleven points but with a much inferior board points difference to ourselves. Stockport still needed to win their last two matches including one against the winless bottom team Bury to take the title. However, two days after Chorlton's title chances ended Urmston defeated Stockport making their end of season win at Bury irrelevant as both they and Urmston finished a point behind Chorlton and ourselves.

Eleven members played for us during the season. Of these, six members formed the core of the team playing in all bar one or two matches. I achieved just under 50%, Bill did achieve 50% and the other four were very impressive on the higher boards. Yaroslav finished with five points from his eight games, Reg had another good season to achieve 5½ points out of nine games, and Karl and Mark in his first season battled for the Bramley Harker Prize which eventually went to Karl with 7½ points out of nine games, which was marginally better than Mark's 6½ out of eight. David, Nick and Tom played 6, 5 and 4 games respectively, David finishing with 2½ and Nick and Tom with 2 points each. David Johnson and Steve Ward helped us out by playing in the Stockport match, where David's victory accompanied wins on the top three boards to ensure we took all the points from that match.

All that remains is for me to once again thank all team members who contributed to our success as we look forward again to Division B Chess in the Manchester League.

Tony Lane
2 September 2014

Results for the season are as follows -

Date Competition Opponents H/A Result Score
03/10/2013 Wahltuch Trophy Eccles H Won 4½-2½
15/10/2013 League Bury 2 A Won 5½-1½
24/10/2013 League Chorlton 4 H Lost 3-4
14/11/2013 League Worsley H Won 5-2
28/11/2013 Wahltuch Trophy Chorlton 2 H Lost 1½-5½
12/12/2013 League Urmston 2 A Won 5½-1½
15/01/2014 League Denton 2 A Won 6½-½
20/02/2014 League Stockport 3 H Won 4½-2½
05/03/2014 League Three Cs 4 A Lost 3-4
13/03/2014 League Eccles H Draw 3½-3½

13/03/2014 - Altrincham 3½ Eccles 3½

We were unable to win our final match of the season despite Eccles being a player short. Reg picked the wrong time to lose his first league game of the season, blundering a piece in the opening. Tony declined his opponent's draw offer and went on to lose. Fortunately a win from Bill and draws from Yaroslav, Nick and Mark together with the board 7 default enabled us to tie the match. We are now dependent on other results going our way if we are to finish in the top two.

05/03/2014 - ThreeCs 4th 4 Altrincham 3

A setback to our promotion hopes, against opponents who had lost all their previous league matches this season. But 3Cs have a tradition of producing strong junior players so can never be taken lightly. Yaroslav and David Hughes had comfortable wins. Reg had a short draw after early simplifications led to a very benign position. Karl seemed to have a winning endgame with a knight and two pawns against a bishop, but his opponent showed maturity beyond his years to save a draw. Bill lost the exchange early on, and his young opponent converted the advantage expertly. Tom was in a winning position, but a blunder allowed his opponent to turn the tables. The last game to finish was Tony's. He seemed to be doing OK at first, a pawn up, but his opponent whipped up a dangerous attack, and seemed to be on the verge of winnning but missed the best continuation. Tony was able to equalise the position, but then lost on time.

20/02/2014 - Altrincham 4½ Stockport 3rd 2½

A vital win against one of our main rivals means that we are now favourites for promotion back to B division. Karl won quickly with a knight fork on the queen, and Mark and David Johnson (on his MCF debut) made it 3-0. Yaroslav then clinched the match with a win on board 1, with Tony contributing a draw for good measure.

15/01/2014 - Denton 2nd ½ Altrincham 6½

Denton's 1st team was playing on the same night, which meant that the pool of players available for their second team was depleted. By contrast we were pretty much at full strength, and outgraded Denton by over 40 points per board on average, so the emphatic victory was not surprising. Yaroslav, Reg, Karl, Nick, Tony and David (Hughes) all won, with Mark drawing.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

2012-13 Team captain's report

Last year I commented that a pattern appeared to be emerging in Division B whereby it was dominated by 2 teams, a further 2 teams struggled at the foot of the table and the other 6 jostled for position in the middle. I had noticed that the pattern was reflected by the points difference between games won and lost during the season. This trend was indeed repeated this season with the champions Urmston achieving a points difference of 37 and the runners up Marple 16. The next 6 teams again had points differences of less than 10. In 2011/12, our difference of -7 put us at the bottom of those 6, whereas Bury's score of +9 placed them third in the league. Bury achieved the same in 2012/13 but unfortunately our negative points score this season just exceeded 10 and therefore we finished next to bottom and were relegated to Division C where we last played in 2007/08.

The season got off to a difficult start with a Cup draw against relegated Urmston. We managed to put up a good fight against the team that ended the season as champions, losing 4½:2½. We lost by the same margin in 3 of our first 4 fixtures against Rochdale, Marple and Chorlton 3, but in our remaining fixture we won convincingly 5½:1½ at Eccles. Our fifth game of the season saw us secure a second victory of the season with a 4:3 victory over Oldham. However, we struggled thereafter, losing 4:3 to both Stockport 2 and Heywood and a 6½:½ defeat at Urmston left us in need of a similar score in our favour at Bury to relegate Oldham instead of ourselves. However, our last match at Bury was a further 5:2 defeat.

Twelve members again played for us during the season. Reg started on board 6 but after 5 straight wins he became our regular board 3, where he still managed to gain further points and finish with an impressive 7 points from 10 games. Bill finished with 4½ points from just 7 games and Nick and David played the same number of games and achieved 50% scores. Yaroslav was ever present and Karl and I only missed 1 game each and we scored 3½, 3 and 2 points respectively. Tom had been our highest scorer in 2011/12 but struggled this season, failing to register a victory. Callum, Steve Douglas, Peter Arland and Wayne were the other players to put in an appearance during the season.

Thank you again to all those who competed, and I am sure you will be rewarded with success in the forthcoming season.

Tony Lane
24 September 2013

2011-12 Team captain's report

The last 2 seasons have seen us finish 5th in Division B.  This season Division B comprised 10 teams and a pattern appears to be emerging in the Division whereby it is dominated by 2 teams, 2 teams struggle at the foot of the table and the other 6 jostle for position in the middle.  This pattern is reflected by the points difference between games won and lost during the season.  The champions Three Cs Two had a points difference of 30 and the points difference for runners up Chorlton 2 was 23.  The relegated team Stockport 3 and Worsley both had a points difference of 28.  The other 6 teams all had points differences of less than 10.  However, our difference of -7 put us at the bottom of those 6, whereas Bury scored 9 to be top of the 6. 

The season started promisingly with a narrow 4 3 cup defeat to a strong Oldham side.  I was unable to make the first game of the league season, so Nick stepped in as Captain and we hammed Stockport 3 5½:1½.  I am pleased to say that when I returned for the Worsley game, we still managed a 5½:1½ victory, although this was assisted by a default on the bottom board by Worsley.  This was one of only 2 defaults during the season, the other being by Oldham at their venue.  The margin of our victory against Worsley could have been even more decisive, but for a mobile phone incident, resulting in Yaroslav having to concede his game.  2 victories were followed by a draw with Chorlton 3 before our season took a turn for the worse.  The margin of defeat at Rochdale 4:3 was extended at Bury 5:2 and peaked at Three Cs 6:1.  Ironically, the run of defeats was halted by mobile phone incident number 2 in which Yaroslav again played a starring role.  This time his oponent’s phone sounded and Yaroslav was pleased to claim the match while other Chorlton players were affected by the decision and this helped us win 4:3.  It is perhaps interesting to note that this could have been mobile phone incident number 3 rather than number 2, as a match had just started at Chorlton 3 when a phone vibrated belonging to one of their players which was duly ignored by all our team and resulted in no penalisation, and in fact ultimately cost us the match.  Our last 2 games ended with defeats 4½:2½ at Oldham and 6:1 at Heywood, who moved above us in the process leaving us in 8th position.

12 members again played for us during the season.  Tom was the most successful with an impressive 5 points from 7, and his score was matched by Carl from his 9 games, mainly on board 2.  Yaroslav played the same number of games as Carl on the top board and scored a creditable 4.  David Hughes matched that score and was our sole ever present player.  Reg also finished with 4 from just 7 games.  Our dip in results later in the season was undoubtedly linked to Nick’s absence as he had scored an impressive 2½ points from 4 games before he took time out for the rest of the season.  This particularly effected myself and Bill who suffered from playing on higher boards and finished with 2 points and 1 point respectively.  Richard, Steve and Calum were the other players to put in an appearance during the season. 

Thank you as always to all members of the team and the transport providers in particular, and we look forward to another competitive season in Division B next season.

Tony Lane

2010-11 Team captain's report

In 2009/10 we had finished strongly, enabling us to improve from ninth to fifth in Division B and come within 3 points of promotion.  This season, there were only 9 teams as opposed to 11 in Division B as Worsley elected to move down a division, while Urmston 2 were the only promoted team replacing the 2 relegated teams.  The 2 teams relegated from the first division ended the season in the top 2 places, with Denton winning all their 8 matches, while we again finished fifth, once again behind Heywood 2 while Bury replaced Chorlton 3 in fourth place.  Although our standing remained unchanged, the season was nowhere near as successful as last year with a success rate of below 40% compared to 60% in 2009/10, and a points tally of 6 leaving us 6 points adrift of second place.  The season got off to a poor start at Chorlton 2 where we were defeated 5½:1½, including a default on the bottom board.  Finding 7 players for away games continued to be challenging throughout the season and we fell one short at both Urmston and Bury.  In return, David Hughes found himself with no opponent for matches at our Club on two occasions.  However, we recovered well from our poor start with a good 4½:2½ victory at Bolton 3 and were then unfortunate to go out of the cup against Urmston on board count.  Our league match at Urmston 2 followed and resulted in another draw and then our season peaked with a 6½:½ victory against Rochdale. Sadly, our season then tailed off with only a point at Heywood 2 from our last 4 matches, registering defeats of 4½:2½ at Bury and home defeats of 4:3 and 5:2 to Chorlton 3 and Denton respectively. 

Twelve members played during the season.  Our team was strengthened by new members Yaroslav and Reg.  During the season, Yaroslav was gradually moved up the boards, finishing the last 3 games on top board.  He finished with an impressive 5 points from 7.  In percentage terms this achievement was only bettered by Karl and Callum who both achieved 75% from their 6 and 3 games respectively.  In terms of points scored, his achievement was bettered only by myself, as I am pleased to report that my 5½ points from 8 matches saw me secure this honour for a second successive season.  Nick and Bill both had tough seasons but kept turning out for 8 and 7 games respectively.  Tom achieved a very respectable 60% from his 5 matches.  Reg was a welcome addition to the team for the last 4 matches where he secured 2 draws and David Hughes went half a point better from the 4 games he played during the season.  Kurt, David Merrifield and Tom Hague all helped out in away matches, with Kurt securing a win in one of his 3 away games. 

We therefore look forward to another exciting season in B Division, which is due to commence with a challenging Wahltuch Trophy match on 29 September against Oldham.  There will again be 9 teams in the division, although they are likely to be a little stronger as 2 teams, Oldham and ThreeCs 2 have been relegated to Division B but only Denton have been promoted.  Urmston 2 return to Division C along with Bolton 3 and are replaced once more by Worsley 1.  In addition, the third from bottom team, Chorlton 3 opted to go down to Division C and are replaced by Stockport 3 who finished level on points with Worsley 1 in that division last year. 

Tony Lane

2009-10 Team captain's report

Another season in division B of the Manchester League provided us with the opportunity to consolidate on our narrow escape from relegation the previous year after promotion from Division C. I am pleased to report the season was very successful in this respect, and that we were the most upwardly mobile team of the division in 2009/10. Our performance saw us move ahead of all the other first teams playing in that division, namely Bury, Rochdale and Worsley. Our final position of 5th as opposed to 9th last year saw us lower than Chorlton 3 on board count only, just a point behind Heywood 2 and three points away from the promotion slots which went to last season's relegated 3Cs 2 and Bolton 2. As well as success in the league, we also avoided first round exit from the Reyner Shield by defeating Chorlton 3 4:3 but went out to Bury in the next round. I am also pleased to report that after defaulting six boards last year, we were able to play a full team in all our 12 seven board matches this season, and we were the beneficiary of just 2 defaults by the opposition.

We made a very cautious start in the league with 3 successive draws at home to Bury, Chorlton 4 and Bolton 3. Our next game at Rochdale would have ended the same way had my opponent chosen to resign instead of carrying on with a material disadvantage until I ran out of time - a ploy I should have seen coming as he had adopted it the previous season against Bill. However, our 5th match against Heywood 2 saw our first victory 4:3 which was followed with a creditable draw against Bolton 2. But our lofty final position was due to a burst of 3 successive victories, 4:3 at home to Stockport 3 and away wins 4½:2½ at Worsley and 4:3 at Chorlton 3. Our last match at 3Cs 2 was academic as they were champions and they duly played like it by cruising to a 6:1 victory.

13 members played during the season. Bill, Kurt and myself were ever present which helped me to the top points score of 7 just ahead of Bill's 6½, while Kurt contributed 2½. We were assisted by the performances above us from Nick, Karl and Richard. Karl and Richard both scored 50% from their 7 and 2 games respectively, while Nick fell just short of that mark with 4 points from his 9 games on top board. Despite missing the valuable contribution this season of the Gerlagh juniors, our lower boards again performed impressively. David Hughes, Callum and Steve all scored 50%. Callum was unbeaten with 5 successive draws, whilst Steve also drew his only game which helped secure the narrow first round cup victory over Chorlton 3. Tom also came close to 50% with 1½ points from his four matches. However the top percentage scorer was Adrian Walker in his first and sadly last season for the club following his move down south. He achieved a 70% score with 3½ points from his five matches, only losing in his opening match against Bury. The other two members to play did so at time rather reluctantly, believing that younger members would fare better. However, they were major contributors to our avoidance of defaults this season, as David Merrifield suffered 3 defeats away from home, whereas he was successful in his only home match , and Graham Bird also secured 2 draws from 3 games, losing out only to an England junior at Champions 3Cs 2.

We therefore ended the season in a strong position in B Division, and look forward to another challenging season in that division.

Tony Lane

2008-9 Team captain's report

As reported last year, this was our 10th anniversary in Division B of the Manchester League since we joined in 1993/94. This followed our promotion last season, and brought a welcome return to playing 10 different teams rather than 5 teams on a home and away basis. Unfortunately, promotion to the B Division meant that we were now the rabbits of the Reyner Shield rather than participants of the Wahltuch Trophy which we had gloriously won the previous year. The first round of the Reyner Shield found us drawn against Bolton 2. It could have been worse, as it could have been their first team, but their second team was good enough to beat us 6:1, helped by the fact that we were 2 players short on the night. Defaults also played a part in the final game of the league where we were 2 short at Stockport, and we were also unable to play a 7th board at both Bolton and Urmston.

The league started somewhat better, with a draw against Three Cs 3 followed by an emphatic 5:2 win over Worsley. Our first defeat at Bury was a narrow 4:3. The season then deteriorated rapidly with heavy defeats to Bolton 3 and Heywood 2 followed by narrower defeats to Urmston 2 and Chorlton 3. We then managed a run of good form with 2 significant victories over Great Lever and Atherton 2 and Rochdale by the margin of 5:2 which was enough to secure us another season in Division B next year. Our final defeat at Stockport 2 by 6:1 left us with a better board count than Three Cs 3 and a point clear of Urmston 2 to preserve our position in B Division for next year.

We again utilised the services of 12 of our players. Nick again provided sterling service on the top board. On the top boards we are often outgraded, and Nick is to be congratulated on holding the opposition 7 times out of the 9 games he played. Karl played on board 2 and won his first 3 games, yet sadly could only manage a ½ from the last 6 to finish with the same points score as Nick. Myself and Bill generally followed on boards 3 and 4, and we were eventually rewarded for our persistence. I had only managed 1 point from the first 7 games and Bill ½ from his first 6. However, I gained 2 wins from the last 4 and Bill 3 took points from his last 4. In the middle order, Kurt scored 70%, and both Tom and David, who were regular players during the season, scored 50%. A feature of the lower boards was the introduction of juniors from the Gerlagh family. Both scored impressively, with Peter gaining his 2½ points from 4 matches and Joris gaining the same from just 3 matches. Graham Bates made a welcome return to the Club for the game at Urmston where he won his game. Other members of the team were David Merrifield and Callum McNulty who also chipped in with useful points.

We therefore ended the season pleased to maintain our position in B division, our natural habitat of the Manchester league, and look forward to the season ahead.

2007-8 Team captain's report

My report last year reported "we are hopeful that we did enough to secure our position in Division B, and if this is confirmed, we will embark on our tenth anniversary in that Division next year, in the period since we joined the Manchester League in 1993/94." The uncertainty at that time was due to the fact that we ended the official season ahead of Bury 2 on board count difference and a point ahead of Rochdale, but Rochdale's game against Stockport 2 had not been played. Unfortunately, Rochdale's game against Stockport 2 was allowed to proceed, and even more unfortunately for us Rochdale proceeded to beat a team 6 places above them in the league, to leapfrog Bury 2, ourselves and Heywood 2 who all finished with 6 points out of 7. Bury 2 and ourselves were therefore relegated to Division C. In hindsight, the drop down a division was not necessarily a bad move, as we had struggled in the last 3 years to maintain our status, indeed finishing in a relegation position in 2004/05 only to be reprieved at the AGM.

The move to a lower division had two important ramifications. Firstly, we were now eligible to enter the Wahltuch Trophy as this is competed for by Division C and D teams. Secondly, instead of playing 10 different clubs once a season, we now had to compete home and away with 5 other clubs. Due to our success in the cup, this meant that we ended up playing more games in the season than ever before and finished with a board count success of 60 points, higher than ever achieved in our 15 year spell in the Manchester League.

As usual, the season started with cup matches, and we secured a fine win 4:3 at Stockport 3 with David Merrifield and Callum McNulty providing sterling support on the bottom boards for the more seasoned campaigners. We then went to Bury 2 in the cup and won emphatically 5½:1½. Our first league game followed, and Warrington provided new opposition for us in the league. We opened the league campaign well with a 5:2 win. The cup campaign then continued with a defeat of Eccles and a second 5:2 league victory followed at Bury 3. This amazing start to the season was rudely halted with 3 successive 5½:1½ defeats to Stockport 3, Bolton 3 and Bury 2. Although, we were able to pull off a win in the return match at Bury 2 we succumbed again to Bolton 3 who went on to win 11 of their 12 matches finishing 8 points clear to win the Division C title. However, I am delighted to say that we then defeated Oldham 3 in the Wahltuch Cup Final 4:3 with Karl Lockett pulling off the final crucial victory. We then had a tremendous end to the season remaining unbeaten for the last 5 matches, which included victories against Stockport 3, Warrington and Bury 3 and two successive draws home and away with Salford.

In our 12 league matches we registered 6 wins and 2 draws and finished in second place to Bolton 3 on 14 points. This therefore sees us promoted back to Division B. Our points tally of 42 was the same as that conceded. However, with our four cup successes and 18 additional points, our tally of 60 was registered for the first time in history.

Such a long hard fought season required the efforts of more players than usual. Twelve players competed in all. Karl Lockett played in every match. He started with 2 draws and then 4 victories, before losing his first match on top board at Bolton. He then went another 7 games without defeat, before tiring at the end to lose his last 2 matches, but still finished with 10 points for the season from his 16 matches. Bill and myself played in 14 matches each and scored reasonably well with 8½ and 7½ respectively. Kurt also picked up 8½ points from one game fewer and David Hughes, Tom and Nick all completed 10 or more appearances with Tom the most successful on 6 points. Of those appearing in fewer games than this, Graham, David Merrifield and Callum all scored 50% or more while Richard came very close to that with 2½ points from 6 games played. Wayne Kranz also helped out with an appearance, but unfortunately for him it was at champions Bolton 3 where he was unable to conquer Ian Lamb. We actually defaulted a game on bottom board in this match and defaulted on the bottom board at Stockport 3 but only by virtue of David Merrifield being left in the Navigation car park for his lift to Stockport. Other than that, we were the beneficiary of a default in the cup competition against Eccles.

Following our success this season, we can now confidently say that we will embark on our tenth anniversary in Division B next year.

2006-7 Team captain's report

Last year, we justified the decision of the fixtures meeting to retain us in our favoured Division B of the Manchester League, despite finishing in a relegation position at the end of 2004/05. Although we justified the decision, we finished with only three teams below us and therefore entered the coming season prepared for a challenge, given the loss of our regular top board David Bryan who moved to Chester.

The start of the season indicated there may be a struggle ahead. We lost to Stockport 2 5:2 and were defeated in our first home match by Atherton 4½:2½. Things seemed to have improved in the next match when both Captains signed off a draw in the match with Bury 2, only to realise in the post match analysis that Karl's assumed win was actually a perpetual check. The score sheets hastily downgraded him from a win to a draw resulting in a win for Bury 2. Results picked up in the next match with a victory at 3Cs by the narrowest of margins. This was followed by a 6:1 thrashing at Urmston from which we recovered with a draw against Heywood 2. The Reyner Shield match was a predictable 7:0 loss against 3Cs first team, with their bottom board Ray English outgrading our top board Nick Lowe by at least 30 points. The absence of top board strength was then cruelly exposed at Rochdale, where we lost on the top four boards and won on the bottom three, with Nick losing the top board game to our former player Daniel Sullivan, who now works in Rochdale. We did manage to follow this up with our second win of the season at Atherton 2 4½:2½ and a draw against Chorlton 2, but we lost 5½:1½ in the final match against Chorlton's third team, who bizarrely finished the season third, 5 points and four places ahead of their second team.

In our 10 league matches we scored 28½ points against 41½ points. Our two wins and two draws compared to three wins and one draw last year, which had been achieved from just nine matches as opposed to ten we played this year. Our overall points tally places us ahead of Bury 2 on board count difference and a point ahead of Rochdale. However, Rochdale's game against Stockport 2 does not appear to have been played and we therefore await confirmation of the final placings.

There were only nine players who played during the season. Although I was the sole ever present, another seven people played in at least eight matches, and the ninth member, David Hughes played in five games. The only person to achieve a plus score was Karl Lockett who had a tremendous season registering 6 points from nine matches. I was the next highest points scorer with 4½, for which I am indebted to Nick who occupied the top board vacated by David and ground out three draws during the season. Richard and Graham did not fare much better on their regular appearances on three and four but Bill and Tom managed to secure 4 points from their matches on the lower boards. Kurt and David both made contributions to the matches in which we secured points in the league.

We are hopeful that we did enough to secure our position in Division B, and if this is confirmed, we will embark on our tenth anniversary in that Division next year, in the period since we joined the Manchester League in 1993/94.

2005-6 Team captain's report

Last year, I reported a much improved overall points score of 23½ from our 9 league games and 1 cup game which was an increase of nearly 150% over the previous year's campaign, which had been the first in the Club's history in Division A of the Manchester league. Despite the improved results, I had to report a second successive year of relegation for the club. However, in hindsight, this proved to be factually incorrect as the fixtures meeting decided we were too strong to be relegated and reprieved both ourselves and Bury's 2nd team.

We therefore set out to prove the League Committee's judgement was well founded. The opening day of the season was indeed encouraging with a tremendous 5½:1½ victory at Chorlton 2. Unfortunately, Bury 2 were also keen to justify their reprieve and defeated us 4½:2½ in the next match. However, we recovered with another emphatic victory 5:2 over 3Cs 3 and held Atherton and Great Lever's second team to a draw. This was followed by the inevitable Reyner Shield setback, playing a premier side Bolton and losing 6½:½. The return to Bolton for our next match was not quite intimidating as we played their second team but were narrowly beaten 4:3, a result which was mirrored at Rochdale in the following game. However, the reversal of this result in our favour at Heywood guaranteed us safety with 7 points for the season, which was to remain our final total following another narrow defeat at Stockport 4:3 and a 4½:2½ defeat at Oldham 2.

In our 9 league matches we finished with a narrow positive board count for the season at 32 points for and 31 against. A number of narrow defeats saw us lose 5 matches, draw 1 and win 3 but the overall points tally was enough to keep us ahead of Bury 2, Rochdale 1 and 3Cs 3.

The nucleus of the team were the 9 players who played in at least half our matches. Karl Lockett also played 4 games and occasional matches were played by David Merrifield and Dan Thompson. Dan made a welcome return after quite an absence from first team matches with a terrific victory at Rochdale. The top points score was achieved by David Hughes with 5 from the 8 matches he played and your Captain who achieved the same tally from just 1 game more. Tom Tomkins was the top percentage scorer with 4½ points from 7 but a much higher score would be warranted on entertainment value, as Tom still remains the top spectator sport in allegro finishes. Kurt, Richard and Nick all scored a respectable 3½ points from 6, 7 and 8 games respectively and other valuable points were scored during the season by our top board David Bryan, and by Graham Bird, Bill McCartney and Karl Lockett.

We can therefore safely say that we have merited our continued position in Division B for next season, which will be our ninth in that Division since we joined the Manchester League in 1993/94.

2004-5 Team captain's report

This time last year I reported on the first campaign in the Club's history in Division A of the Manchester League. The report made depressing reading with only 2 individual matches won from 70 games played and with the highest points scorer being David Hughes with his 6 draws from 10 matches played. Our cumulative points score was just 9½ from the 70 available and most players had a percentage score for the season in a range of 0 to 20. So how refreshing to report on our seventh season back in our natural habitat of Division B. Well it would be but for the small matter of having to report our second relegation on the trot.

Despite relegation, the season was in no way as depressing as the previous year. In fact, after an initial 5:2 defeat to Rochdale prospects looked good with a draw at Stockport followed by a 4:3 victory over Bury 2. The crucial part of the season centred around the next 2 matches which we lost by the narrowest of margins 4:3 against 3Cs 3 and Lancs Forever 2. An emphatic 6:1 cup exit to 3Cs 2 was followed by a collapse in the league with 5:2 defeats to Bury and Urmston and a 7:0 hammering at Atherton and Great Lever. A good win at Bolton 2 could still have kept us in the Division but we were narrowly beaten 4:3. As a result we were relegated on 3 points with Bury 2 just 2 points adrift of Rochdale.

The total points scored at 23½ was therefore an encouraging increase of nearly 150% over the previous year's campaign. The outstanding performance was from Nick Lowe who scored 4½ points from his 9 matches, remaining unbeaten in the latter half of the season. Kurt Linke and myself were ever present and both managed to score 3½ points. Indeed, it was a very settled team utilising principally 8 people. Richard White, Graham Bird, and Tom Tomkins all picked up 3 points and the other 2 regular members were David Hughes who won twice on bottom board in his 5 matches and David Bryan who contributed in no small manner heroically on our top board. Although his reward for the season was just 2 draws, this did include one against the highly rated Paul Macklin at Bury. More importantly, it enabled Nick and I to amass a cumulative 8 points from our games compared to just 1 last year. In our previous season in A Division 6 people were given a game and allowed to share in our lack of success. This year just 3 people played 1 game, and sadly they fared no better. Steve Ward lost at 3Cs 3, and we welcomed back Bill McCartney and gave a debut to Lee Hindley in our whitewash defeat at Atherton and Great Lever.

Relegation is of course disappointing, but C Division is where we first started in the league in Season 1993/94. We were promoted immediately that year and the division has been a good one for us. Season 1998/99 was another promotion year and the last time we were relegated to that division saw us return as champions in 2001/02. We trust this a good omen for the forthcoming season.

2003-4 Team captain's report

The 2003/04 campaign was the first in the Club's history in Division A. This was in no small part due to the efforts of Andrew Walden on top board who won all his 9 league matches and scored a record number of points for the Club during my 11 year term of captaincy. Unfortunately, no sooner had we reached this lofty position than Andrew decided to move to Southampton. Consequently, he was only available for the first match of the season and with Mike Donkin still unable to play, after supporting him on board 2 for 4 matches last season, we were seriously depleted on top boards and in no fit state to compete successfully with the elite of Manchester and District chess.

This point was proved in our opening match against 3Cs second team, who set the tone for the season with a 7:0 whitewash. Concentrating on the cup against Bolton in our next match we were defeated 6½:½ . The season continued in a similar vein with a loss to Stockport 2 of 5½:1½, with Kurt historically becoming the first player from the Club to win a match in this division with his win over Dr Jill Barber. This was a feat he replicated later in the season with his victory in the Bolton match which we lost by the same 5½:1½ score. His two victories proved to be the only ones recorded by a Club player all season emphasising the difference in class between Division A and the rest of the League. In all 70 games played, Kurt's 2 wins were supplemented by just 15 draws to give us a total point score of 9½ against 60½ points conceded. Our other defeats included a further 7:0 loss at Stockport, 6½:½ defeats at the hands of 3Cs first team and Oldham, and a 6:1 defeat to Peoples. However, by the end of the season our improvement was such that we only lost 5:2 in our last 2 matches against Lancashire Forever and Chorlton.

It is a tribute to the Club's members that despite such a depressing season we only defaulted on the bottom board at Stockport all season. As usual there was a nucleus of players called upon to play on a regular basis. David Hughes was our only ever present and was responsible for no fewer than 6 of the 15 draws I mentioned earlier, marking an impressive debut season for him. Kurt was our next most successful player playing in every match bar the last. Graham, Nick and myself all played 8 of the 10 matches with Nick and myself recording our sole ½ point in the last match of the season against Chorlton. By that time, the more successful Graham had already secured 3 draws in his games. Richard also had managed 2 draws from 6 matches and Karl 1 from his 5. This nucleus of players was valuably supported in the latter stages of the season by Dave Bryan who played on boards 1 or 2 for the last 4 matches and David Merrifield who played in the last 2 games. I believe they helped us to raise our performance at the end of the season to achieve the 5:2 results and Nick and myself are of course indebted to Dave for pushing us down to boards 2 and 3 where we were able to secure our first ½ points of the season.

The number of players turning our for the Club during the season was no fewer than 16. These included Ian Pratley who represented the Club for the first time on 3 occasions and no fewer than 6 other players playing 1 match each. These included 3 strong players who had all contributed significantly the previous season. In addition, to Andrew Walden, Daniel Sullivan was generally unavailable as his degree course involved a move from Manchester to Keele and Bill McCartney played only once due to pressure at work. The final three individuals to be press ganged into first team action were Mike Hood, Dan Thompson and Denis Osborne.

Every cloud has a silver lining and for us it is obviously the opportunity to compete effectively once more in our natural habitat of Division B, where we look forward to enjoying our seventh season since we joined the Manchester League in 1993/94.